Early Doors

Where there’s blame, there’s a claim

Early Doors

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If you've suffered an accident in the workplace that wasn't your fault, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

If that sentence sounds familiar, it is because you can't turn on the TV without an advert for some personal injury law firm slapping you in the chops (but not quite hard enough for you to make a claim against it).

Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier is obviously as big a fan of Loose Women as Early Doors, because he is planning a 'no win no fee' claim against Nigel De Jong following Hatem Ben Arfa's accident in the workplace.

Ben Arfa is on loan at Newcastle from Marseille, whose furious reaction to the player's broken leg rather typifies a draconian French view - expounded last week by Armchair Pundit - that De Jong is a thug who has crushed the precious future of Les Bleus and must be drummed out of the game.

Dassier said on Sunday night: "We will file a claim against De Jong. It's about getting rid of this type of individual from European grounds."

So, which company to choose? These days, you can tell the best law firms from the use of crass abbreviations in their names.

The era of magnificently-named entities like Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom are over.

People don't have time for multiple names any more - they want reassuring that sueing the backside off somebody is going to be no more difficult than sending a text.

Hence the emergence of firms like InjuryLawyers4U, first4lawyers and Direct2Solicitors.

The first of those companies seems like the best bet for Marseille, since it appears they do a nice line in celebrity representation.

After all, they have a ringing endorsement on their website from the famous actor Bill Murray, who says: "Even actors can be injured by accident or negligence. In the real world you need a real lawyer to help you - not an ambulance chaser."

Oh, wait, it's not Hollywood legend Bill Murray. It's Billy Murray from EastEnders, The Bill and, er, the InjuryLawyers4U adverts. But that's OK, he's still famous enough. He knew the Krays...

It needs emphasising, of course, that the claim is being made not by Ben Arfa, but by Marseille.

Ben Arfa is still getting paid, and with any luck his future earning potential will not be compromised.

And, to an extent, you can understand Marseille's beef, if not their flimsy claim that they are doing it for the good of the game rather than their wallet.

They were guaranteed a £5m transfer fee for Ben Arfa if he had played 25 games this season, thanks to a clause in the loan contract with Newcastle.

Now they have to brace themselves for no money and the return of a player who went on strike to engineer a move away from the Stade Velodrome in August.

But the fact is, injuries happen, and this is as clear a case as they come of what Formula One drivers would call "a racing incident". Or, as Jamie Redknapp would have it, "one of them things".

There is absolutely no evidence that De Jong set out to cause his opponent injury - although where you draw the line between 'a reducer' and brutality is a hotly-debated topic.

But the challenge was not even deemed a foul by ref Martin Atkinson, and FIFA rules dictate that if an incident is seen by the referee, as this was, then retrospective punishment is not possible.

According to football's highest authority (FIFA, not Alex Ferguson) there was literally NOTHING WRONG with De Jong's tackle. It wasn't even worth a free-kick.

So what kind of mind-boggling precedent would be set if a player making a fair challenge could be sued successfully in a court of law?

Litigation in football always makes Early Doors nervous. The monetisation of the game has caused absolute price tags to be placed on things whose values fluctuate wildly.

Like when Adrian Mutu was sacked for cocaine use and was fined £14.65m by FIFA to compensate Chelsea for loss of future earnings. While Mutu was obviously stupid, he was neither the first nor the last player to torpedo his own transfer value through unprofessional behaviour.

But why stop there? Why not charge players for everything that impacts on a club's earning potential? Why wasn't John Terry penalised for the hit to Chelsea's prestige, shirt sales and marketing clout caused by his extra-marital nonsense and subsequent removal as England captain?

And if clubs are going to start taking legal action over everything that causes a player's value to drop, then how long until Andriy Shevchenko is served with a writ for playing atrociously at Stamford Bridge?

- - -

Gary Neville admits Manchester City are - gasp! - a threat to United: "We're behind City, which has not happened too often in the past 20 years. There is no doubt we have to see City as major challengers this season along with Chelsea. Both clubs are above us and the money City have spent, and the quality and depth in both squads, means we have to see them both as rivals."

Yeah, but what do you think of Tevez, Gaz?

FOREIGN VIEW: Early Doors is not ashamed to say it hopes Mirko Vucinic scores against England tomorrow.

Why? Because it is absolutely desperate to see the Montenegro striker silence Wembley, then remove his shorts and put them on his head as he did against Switzerland on Friday night.

"I was not being disrespectful with the way I celebrated against Switzerland. Every player has his own style.

"If I score the winning goal I will not be able to resist producing the same goal celebration. This is an historic game in our country with the biggest TV audience ever."

COMING UP: A paper-thin day of live sport today, but why not join us for Brazil v Ukraine at 19:30 UK time, brought to you from the glamorous environs of Derby.

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