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Gillingham issue statement over Mark McCammon race victimisation case

By Luke Cawdell

Gillingham have claimed closure on their long-running legal battle in relation to their dismissal of former striker Mark McCammon.

An employment tribunal ruled that McCammon’s sacking in 2011 had been a case of unfair racial victimisation.

Mr Scally strenuously denied any allegations of racism, claiming that they were made ‘maliciously and without foundation’. An employment tribunal found in McCammon’s favour in August 2012 and awarded him £68,000.

Former Gillingham player Mark McCammon Picture: Barry Goodwin
Former Gillingham player Mark McCammon Picture: Barry Goodwin

The tribunal upheld claims of race victimisation by dismissal, unfair dismissal and unauthorised deduction from wages. It did not uphold a claim of race victimisation by detriment - a legal term for when someone is treated unfavourably because they have made a race discrimination claim, aside from dismissal.

Two years later the FA charged the club and Mr Scally with bringing the game into disrepute.

A regulatory commission appointed by the FA imposed two separate £75,000 fines on both the chairman and the club.

At the time Mr Scally said he and his staff were ‘shocked, stunned and angered’ by the decision from the FA to hit them with a fine.

In a statement back in 2015, he added: “The level of these sanctions is manifestly excessive, totally disproportionate and completely unjust.

“We have been given no reasoned explanation for the severity of the fines.

“It is important to emphasise that, in the written reasons for its decision, the Regulatory Commission states: 'We see no evidence which supports a conclusion that there was any actual race discrimination against Mr McCammon'.”

The club have issued a statement in their programme ahead of the Blackburn game, saying: “On 15 April, 2015 the club and the chairman were found by the FA to have breached their rules in relation to the dismissal of a former player in January 2011.

“The wording used in the dismissal letter was found to be an act of race victimisation.

“Regrettably, the club and the chairman were specifically advised by their experienced external advisor to use that wording in the dismissal letter. Had the club and the chairman not followed this incorrect advice the terms of the letter would not have attracted the damaging finding of race victimisation from the FA.

“The external advisors have now both compensated and apologised to the club and the chairman for the serious mistake which they committed.

“This brings this unfortunate matter to a close and no further statement will be made by the club or the chairman.”

McCammon signed for the club in 2008, becoming the highest paid player at the time on £2,500 a week. Between then and the summer of 2011 he played 52 league games for the club, half of which were substitute appearances.

McCammon, who said at the tribunal that he had “been through hell” claimed that the club refused to pay for private treatment for an injury, deducted his wages and fined him for not training when it snowed, an incident which resulted in a heated confrontation with then manager Andy Hessenthaler.

McCammon said conditions were too treacherous to make it in, but this was disputed by the club.

He alleged he and other black players were treated differently from white players in the first race case a footballer has ever brought before an employment tribunal.

A statement by McCammon’s lawyer, Sim Owalabi, after the tribunal said: “He is pleased that the employment tribunal has found in his favour and feels that the judgment makes clear that his dismissal was not only unfair but an act of race victimisation.”

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