Rugby clubs avoid court with £200,000 settlement
Castleford Tigers and Sale Sharks have come to a £200,000 settlement over Denny Solomona’s switch from league to union.
The legal wrangling over Solomona’s move was due to come to a head later this year with a trial, but the clubs have managed to avoid facing each other in front of a judge.
Solomona joined the Tigers at the start of the 2014 season, and became an “outstanding” rugby league player, according to a statement by the club.
They said they had made it “unequivocally clear” that Solomona was signed in until the end of the 2018 season, but after negotiations which boosted Solomona’s pay, he signed a contract to start with Sale in September 2016.
Five days later, on 27 September, he resigned with immediate effect but his resignation was not accepted by Castleford Tigers.
He failed to turn up to pre-season training in the November 2016 and the Tigers said that the club was left with “no alternative” other than to terminate Solomona’s contract especially when they learnt that Solomona was training with Sale from at least 22 November 2016, if not before.
Castleford Tigers then brought proceedings in the High Court in Leeds to compensate for its loss.
Now, however Sale will make a “substantial contribution” to their costs and will pay their own legal fees.
Likely costs to be recovered in addition are approximately £100,000.
Chief executive Steve Gill said: “This has been a difficult few months for the club. It would have been very easy to walk away and put all of this down to experience but Castleford Tigers is not a selling club anymore. We have demonstrated over the last three years that the club is ambitious. We want to maintain our existing squad and continue to improve.
“The approach from Sale was not welcome. We made our position clear but we have no control over the fact that Solomona was going to walk out on his contract. We believe lessons have now been learnt and we hope if this was to happen again rugby union clubs would respect the fact that the league players who are under contract cannot be enticed away without fear of financial penalties.
“Sale, Solomona and Mr Clarke have had ample opportunities over the last few months to apologise for their actions. Neither has done so which we find disappointing as well as disrespectful for the shabby way this transfer was conducted.
However, we have to move on and the compensation payment is now likely to be used for team strengthening to help us achieve our ambitions.
We wish to thank our legal team of Richard Cramer and Martin Williams of FrontRow Legal, and Nick Randall QC for their guidance and assistance in achieving this successful outcome.
Now that the matter has come to an end we can focus our energies on continue to develop the club both on and off the field.”
Richard Cramer solicitor for Castleford Tigers said, “This has proved to be an interesting case. Castleford throughout the whole process have endeavoured to maintain the highest level of professionalism in the face of the challenges of losing (unexpectedly) one of their top players broke the Super League try scoring record last season and having to take proactive steps to seek redress and discover the truth what happened given the unprecedented and unfortunate set of circumstances they faced.
“There has been various commentaries about this being the new Bosman Case but given the overall outcome any idea of the flood gates opening have been well and truly shut.”