0 Hull Stadium Management Company releases statement on 'sacked' KCOM groundsmen

Hull's Stadium Management Company (SMC) says it is confident it can 'successfully defend' any claim brought by two KCOM groundsmen who claim they were sacked over the state of the pitch.

Darrell Cook and Mark Harrison were dismissed a month ago by the Stadium Management Company (SMC) for gross misconduct after claims the pitch had been deteriorating.

Darell, 55, was says he was also told he was being sacked for working as a kit man for Hull FC while Mark claims he was told another reason for his dismissal was down to ordering too much grass treatment product and for allowing casual workers to turn up and repair divots in return for a match ticket.

Both men insist they did nothing to warrant their dismissal and were not given any warnings beforehand.

They have now launched a crowdfunding bid, which has already attracted donations of nearly £4,000, so they can hire solicitors to represent them at an employment tribunal.

But the SMC, which runs the KCOM Stadium used by Hull City and Hull FC, is ready to fight an claim.

In a statement it says: "The SMC would like to make its position clear in respect of the allegations of unfair dismissal by Mr Harrison and Mr Cook.

"It is extremely unusual to litigate such cases via the media although as this is the approach adopted by the two former employees, we reluctantly feel we need to make a further statement in order to correct the factual inaccuracies which have been made publicly.

"Following investigation, both former employees were dismissed for gross misconduct and a fundamental breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence.

"It is not appropriate to set out the reasons in this statement although the reasons for their dismissal have been made clear to them in their dismissal letters and both have had a right to appeal.

"We are confident that a fair and robust process was adopted and that any claim brought by either Mr Harrison or Mr Cook will be successfully defended."

The SMC also believes the two men haven't explore other alternatives available to them.

The statement says: "The SMC is not prepared to make any further statement at this stage, although we would like to put on record that, at this point in time, we are not aware that Mr Cook or Mr Harrison have contacted ACAS in order to use the free pre-claim conciliation process.

"We therefore feel that setting up a fundraising page to raise £5,000 to 'pay the fee to start the claim for our legal team to get everything ready to lodge the case', (which would in fact cost each of them £250 to submit) is extremely premature."

The two men want to hire Gosschalks Solicitors to fight their case but say they are worried about the costs.

In a joint statement, the two men said: "We don't want the inevitable attention this may bring but we had no other option if we were to fight for the jobs we love and to clear our names.

"This is not just for us but for our wives, parents and children. We're proud men who have always taken immense pride in our work.

Their campaign has been called Pitch For Justice. Visit www.crowdjustice.com/case/kcom-stadium to donate.

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