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Where There's Blame There's A Claim...

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Tut tut Djibril, be more careful!
Tut tut Djibril, be more careful!

One story jumped out of yesterday's papers, the news that fans are no longer allowed to watch the Sunderland team train thanks to an ongoing law suit.

 It really was one of those stories that makes you stop in your tracks, do a double take to make sure that you read it correctly, then shake your head in a state of stunned disbelief.

Let me start from the beginning. Talking on BBC Newcastle's Total Sport programme, Niall Quinn was asked if fans would be allowed to see the lads train in the future, as they had in the past. Unfortunately, our chairman was forced to reveal that after a fan was struck by a ball while watching the team train, the supporter in question is currently suing the club, meaning that it is now banned for the foreseeable future.

Mr Quinn said on the radio show: "We had a supporter who got a bad injury. I think it was one of Djibril Cisse's misses where he had a shot from 20 yards. I'm making fun of it now, but it knocked a supporter out. It was quite serious. That supporter is in the process of suing us right now."

The first thing to notice about this story obviously is that the claim is currently ongoing, an interesting point considering the fact that the French frontman left our club almost two years ago. Is it dragging on a bit, or was the idea to sue Sunderland a bit of a late starter?

If the fan in question is reading now, then I am sorry that you went through that ordeal, I appreciate that it can't have been nice. But this is a football team's training ground, and as the shot came from our ex-centre forward, I can only imagine that you were stood near a goal. This has somewhat obvious hazards attached.

Cisse may not have been the best overall football player we ever had, in reality, his pass success rate was probably about 4%, and it's unlikely he ever tried more than a handful in all the time he was with us, but the guy had one hell of a shot on him, meaning that if you were planning on going to watch this man practice his trade, you would be wary when he had the ball near the goal, especially considering his tendency to miss the target.

To sue Sunderland for being hit by the ball, to me, sounds like a desperate move to get money from the club, in a move of pure opportunism, for an incident that was nothing more than an unfortunate accident. Surely no-one would consider calling a 'no win, no fee' company if they were hit by a Tiger Woods drive at the US Masters, something that would cause considerably more damage. Or imagine being the unfortunate fan looking the other way when Kevin Pietersen hit a World Cup-winning six that happened to smash your front teeth out... Would you be on the phone to Claims Direct? No, thought not.

This blog would be more in keeping with Question Time than Roker Report if I went off on a tangent into the UK's blame culture, but forgive me for thinking this whole debacle is somewhat ridiculous.

And what are the options? Should we have signs up at the SOL to warn fans that they enter the ground at their own risk of wayward Jordan Henderson strikes? Perhaps no-one should be allowed into the ground without a hard hat or motorbike helmet?

Our game is changing enough as it is with players pretending to have a broken nose when they have been tapped on the shoulder, or rolling for 30 feet when the opposition player pulled out of the tackle before contact was made, please, let us not as fans adopt the same bad habits.

The only thing left to do is hope that Sunderland's legal team makes those in charge of the fate of this one see sense, and if they don't, and the fan wins the case, you can be sure to see me standing by the advertising hoardings next time Newcastle come to town, hoping and praying that I can take an Joey Barton or Shola Ameobi shot in the face. If I do, I'll buy everyone in the stadium a drink, courtesy of Mike Ashley's wallet.

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