We didn't expect a windfall - Doncaster

PUBLISHED: 15:23 26 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:29 14 September 2010

Chief executive Neil Doncaster has taken a philosophical view after Norwich City and their fellow Football League clubs missed out on a potential windfall thanks to a court ruling over the collapse of the ITV Digital deal.

Chief executive Neil Doncaster has taken a philosophical view after Norwich City and their fellow Football League clubs missed out on a potential windfall thanks to a court ruling over the collapse of the ITV Digital deal.

Hopes of recouping some of the money lost from the collapse of the deal four years ago were dashed when the Football League won claims for professional negligence against its former legal advisers, but lost its £150m damages claim.

Instead, the League faces multi-million legal costs bill after being awarded just £4 - which amounts to 5½ pence for each of its 72 member clubs.

"If the League had been successful it could have been a windfall," said City's chief executive Neil Doncaster. "It would have been very, very helpful but it is not to be and we are no worse off than we were yesterday.

"It is clearly disappointing from the League's point of view and also the clubs' point of view. But we did not budget for anything, which was the prudent thing to do."

The Canaries lost an estimated £4m in revenue when ITV Digital went under, but were able to keep the wolf from the door with the sale of residential land close to the ground and £2.2m from a share issue.

Belts were tightened across the board, but they were not alone. Many clubs had invested in players and ground improvements that they could not afford when the television money dried up.

The Football League's case had been hailed as one of the largest professional negligence claims ever made against solicitors - the firm of Edge Ellison, which advised the League over the collapsed £140 million deal.

Mr Justice Rimer found that there had been two breaches of duty. But he ruled that neither caused any substantial damages and awarded the League just a nominal £2 for each breach.

He said: "I have found that in two respects Edge Ellison breached the duties they owed to the Football League Limited in relation to the grant of the television rights. But I have also found that neither breach caused any substantial damage."

Mr Justice Rimer said the League had lost its claim for substantial damages and should pay Edge Ellison 90 per cent of its costs.

This left the Football League liable for most of the legal costs of the case which could be as high as £5 million.

The League sued Hammond Solicitors - who at the time were known as Edge Ellison - over their failure to secure a payment guarantee from ITV Digital's backers, Carlton and Granada.

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