Sussex

Sacked Brighton and Hove Albion ground staff vow to clear names

BHAFC stadium
Image caption Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club said team news was being leaked from October 2018

Three groundsmen sacked by Brighton and Hove Albion (BHAFC) over the leaking of team sheets have said they are fighting to clear their name.

Dean Massey, Ashley Smith and Jordan Woodsford were dismissed by the Premier League side last month.

In a letter seen by the BBC, the trio was told the club had "lost all trust and confidence" in them.

A spokesperson for BHAFC previously said they would not comment on matters which it regards as confidential.

Mr Massey, Mr Smith and Mr Woodsford all claim they were not given the chance to appeal the decision to sack them following an investigation into the leak, which the club said began in October 2018.

Image caption Jordan Woodsford, Dean Massey and Ashley Smith were sacked by the club

All three men have said they are determined to prove their innocence through a court or tribunal.

Speaking to BBC South East, Mr Massey said: "The way they have gone about the situation is not what you expect from a Premier League club.

"I was distraught. I hadn't done anything wrong. I just want the truth to come out."

Ex-deputy head groundsman Mr Smith said he was told the club was going through a restructure and a change of culture, adding there were also suggestions he was removed due to being a fan of the club.

'Piece of meat'

The 34-year-old said: "I feel like I have been treated terribly. You feel like a number or a piece of meat and not like a human being.

"I have been a fan since I was five. That's not a real reason to sack someone."

Mr Woodsford, 25, added: "It makes you feel like you are a criminal. It has been really stressful."

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