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Apr 17, 2013

Rovers likely to lose Berg pay dispute

A High Court judge has described Blackburn Rovers' modus operandi as "utterly unforgivable" after it emerged that they attempted to stop the payment of £2.2 million in unpaid wages to their former manager Henning Berg.

Rovers had initially agreed to honour Berg's three-year contract in full after he was sacked just 56 days into his tenure in December 2012, but later decided not to do so.

Presiding Judge Mark Pilling said the Championship strugglers had behaved in a way that was "woefully inadequate" and "entirely contrary to the way justice is supposed to be served", the Independent reported.

The row has arisen because of a claim from Blackburn's principal owner, Anuradha Desai, that managing director Derek Shaw was not sanctioned to give Berg such a lucrative contract and was, in fact, only entitled to offer one year of pay upon severance.

The Manchester court heard that Desai had subsequently instigated internal disciplinary proceedings against Shaw - something undermined by an earlier press release on the club's official website in which Shaw was offered "the complete backing and support" of the owners and claimed tthere was "no investigation" into Berg's contractual entitlements.

Berg has already been paid £562,500 by the club, but is owed £1.6 million gross.

Judge Pilling made it clear that Blackburn were unlikely to succeed in their efforts to stifle Berg's action to claim the remainder, saying: "I've come close to dismissing this application out of hand, but I'm just persuaded [to allow it]".

However, they did grant the club's barristers the opportunity to bring the argument that Berg's contract was not binding because of Shaw's lack of authority to offer it.

That will depend upon a case being made to show that Berg and his representatives had knowledge that Shaw did not have the power to offer him a contract on such terms.

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