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Ireland defender Richard Keogh awarded €2.67 million after Derby found to be in breach of contract

The 34-year-old made over 300 appearances for The Rams between 2012 and 2019.

Richard Keogh (file pic).
Richard Keogh (file pic).
Image: PA

IRELAND DEFENDER Richard Keogh has been awarded a reported fee of €2.67 million (£2.3 million) after it was ruled that he had been “wrongly dismissed” by Derby County.

The Irish international made over 300 appearances for The Rams between 2012 and 2019.

However, the centre-back’s contract was terminated by the club following an incident in September 2019, as he suffered serious knee ligament injuries when he was a passenger in a car crash, which led to team-mates Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence being arrested on suspicion of drink-driving, which both individuals later admitted to being guilty of in a court hearing.

Bennett and Lawrence, who escaped any serious injuries, avoided jail sentences, but were handed six-week fines as a result of the incident and were sentenced to 80 hours of community service and rehabilitation.

Keogh’s initial appeals for unfair dismissal were rejected by both Derby and the English Football League. However, having made another appeal to an employment tribunal with assistance from the PFA in January 2021 and after long delays partially due to the pandemic, the decision has been ruled in the footballer’s favour, via the EFL’s Player Related Dispute Commission [PRDC].

Derby then appealed the decision to award the payout through the League Appeals’ Committee [LAC], but the original verdict was upheld.

An EFL statement read: “The LAC has heard and dismissed an appeal under the regulations of the EFL by Derby against the decision of the PRDC in the case of Richard Keogh. The PDRC held that Mr Keogh had not committed gross misconduct, that he had not brought the club into serious disrepute and that he had been wrongly dismissed by the club.”

The Guardian reports that Keogh was on wages of £24,000 (€28,000) a week plus bonuses and had 21 months left to run on his Derby deal at the time of the dismissal, thereby entitling him to €2.67 million in compensation.

The player, who has been capped 26 times by Ireland but has not appeared for his country since the incident, was given the chance to stay at Derby and take a significant pay cut. He was then dismissed after turning down this offer.

Keogh has since re-started his career. After nearly a year out of action, he joined MK Dons at the beginning of the season, before moving up a division to sign for Huddersfield in January.

Having helped steer the Championship club to safety, the 34-year-old is currently in negotiations over extending his stay there, according to their official website.

Meanwhile, Derby are set to face disciplinary sanctions after the EFL won an appeal over an error in law relating to the handling of a previous misconduct charge concerning the club’s accounting policies.

However, it is not yet clear whether any punishment will be applied to this season or next as the EFL said there was “no definitive timescale” for proceedings.

An independent league arbitration panel concluded an August 2020 disciplinary commission was wrong to dismiss the EFL’s expert accountancy evidence which stated the club’s valuation of player registrations (amortisation) was contrary to standard accounting rules. 

The disciplinary commission had already concluded the club did not adequately disclose in its financial statements the nature and/or effect of its change in accounting policy and there has been no appeal against that decision.

Derby and the EFL will now have the opportunity to make submissions on the appropriate sanction arising out of those breaches.

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“Despite media speculation, there is no definitive timescale for a determination on sanction though the League will press for a decision as soon as reasonably possible and will provide a further update at the appropriate time,” said an EFL statement.

The success of the appeal hinged on the fact the panel determined Derby’s policy was not in accordance with accounting standard FRS102 because it failed to accurately reflect the manner in which the club takes the benefit of player registrations over the lifetime of a player’s contract.

Derby, who avoided relegation from the Sky Bet Championship by a point on Sunday, said they were disappointed with the decision.

“The club accepts but is disappointed with the LAP’s conclusion on the one ground that the EFL succeeded on,” said a statement.

“The club and the EFL have agreed that the matter shall now be remitted back to the original DC (disciplinary commission) who can determine what, if any, consequences arise from the partial success of the EFL’s amortisation charge, and the club is therefore currently unable to comment further.”

Derby claim the reason the appeal took so long was because of issues raised by Middlesbrough and then the EFL, each of which was dismissed, and had this not occurred the issue would have been concluded last year.

Additional reporting by Press Association

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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