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Jun 25, 2012

Racism claim against Gillingham

Former Gillingham striker Mark McCammon is taking the League Two club to an industrial tribunal this week, claiming he was released from Priestfield after being subjected to racial discrimination.

McCammon, 33, alleges that he and other black players at Gillingham were treated differently from white players.

The tribunal heard that McCammon claimed Gillingham tried to "frustrate him out" by refusing to pay private medical bills to help him regain fitness following injury.

He said was instead offered the choice of undergoing the same treatment on the NHS - a move he described as "completely out of character" for a Football League club - and claimed a white player had been flown to Dubai for treatment by a physiotherapist at the club's expense.

He alleged that Gillingham tried to sabotage his career after talks about a move with 11 different clubs collapsed. "It soon became known that the chairman had been interfering,'' he said in his witness statement.

McCammon signed for Gillingham in 2008 and was the club's highest-paid player on £2,500 a week. By his third season, they had been relegated to League Two and he had suffered an injury that needed an operation.

"Effectively, he [the chairman] preferred to offer me some money to get out of the contract rather than have to pay for my injury and help me back to recuperation," his statement said. He said he was "stalled for as long as possible" and was eventually offered money to terminate the deal.

The Barbados international is suing the Kent club and its chairman, Paul Scally, for race discrimination, breach of contract, unfair dismissal and failure to pay him.

It is believed he will claim that he and other black players were treated less favourably than white players over punishments handed out for missing training, medical treatment and pay-cuts following the club's relegation to League Two in 2010.

The case will be heard at an industrial tribunal in Ashford, Kent, over four years. McCammon, who was on loan at non-league Lincoln City until the end of last season, signed a three-year deal with Gillingham in 2008 and was released three seasons later.

Speaking in February, a Gillingham spokesman said: "The allegations made by Mark McCammon are wholly rejected by the club. It would not be appropriate for the club to comment further until the employment tribunal hearing has taken place."