Ossett United: The tackle that threatens the future of a non-league club

Ossett United v Cleethorpes Town
Ossett United (in blue, walking out before a match against Cleethorpes last year) were formed in 2018 after Ossett Town and Ossett Albion merged

A non-league club have said that a legal ruling against them has put their future at risk and could have ramifications throughout the game, down to a recreational level.

Last week a court in Manchester ruled in favour of a Radcliffe Borough player who suffered a broken ankle in a tackle in a match against Ossett Town, now Ossett United.

The club say they may have to sell their ground in order to raise the £135,000 they now owe in damages and legal fees.

"It's really serious. We don't have that kind of money in the bank. We run week-to-week," director James Rodgers told BBC Look North.

"We had the recommended insurance, we did as we were advised but it doesn't cover player-to-player cases.

"If we have to sell the ground it would be significant because this is our home. We have set up a GoFundMe page and we are trying to avoid selling the ground."

Ossett Town merged with Ossett Albion to form Ossett United in 2018 and play at Ingfield, where Town played their home matches.

The West Yorkshire club play in Division One of the Northern Premier League, the eighth tier of English football.

They said in a statement on Sunday: "This not only puts the entire club and the future of football in the town in jeopardy but also opens up the floodgates for all injured sports participants to successfully sue and win substantial money from the person who injured them and their club.

"This can then filter down to recreational sport like five-a-side football where an individual can sue an opponent should they receive an injury during a game. This will change not only football but sports participation throughout the country at every level."

Ossett United
Ossett United's Ingfield ground has a capacity of 1,950

League warns of 'substantial problem'

Northern Premier League chairman Mark Harris said all clubs at that level were required to have public liability insurance, covering spectators and their own players.

However, the cost of clubs insuring each individual player on a player-to-player basis at that level were "prohibitive" and could amount to about four weeks of their yearly running costs, he added.

"There is no great pot of gold and it is something of a myth in football that there is some unmined seam of money. It's not there," he told BBC Look North.

"In the Football League, if you get relegated to the National League you get £650,000 in central funding. Three leagues lower, you get nothing.

"What we bring in in terms of sponsorship and money through the turnstiles keeps clubs going. So clearly any unexpected and unwelcome financial burden is going to put a great deal of pressure on our clubs."

He added: "If you think about it just through non-league football, not touching any other sport, there are 900 clubs outside the Football League up and down the country. Multiply that by the number of teams within each club, normally six or seven, and then each with 12 to 15 players you are talking about a very substantial problem."

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