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Industry News

Groundsmen dig in after dismissals by Hull stadium operator

Two groundsmen have launched a crowd-funding campaign to take the Superstadium Management Company (SMC) that operates the KCOM Stadium (pictured) in Hull to an employment tribunal.

Mark Harrison and Darrell Cook, who were sacked in April for gross misconduct, have raised more than £3,500 so far towards a £5,000 target on the Crowdjustice.com website since the campaign’s launch yesterday (Thursday).

Both Harrison and Cook have worked at the stadium since it opened in 2002 as the new home of English Premier League club Hull City and Super League rugby club Hull FC. Before the two clubs moved to the stadium, Harrison and Cook had worked at the previous grounds of Hull City and Hull FC since 1988 and 1991 respectively.

In a statement on the website, the duo said that they had amassed 55 years of “unblemished service” between them before they were dismissed, “partly… because of the alleged state of the pitch”.

They claim that a company called PSD Agronomy was commissioned by the management of the SMC to inspect the pitch on Monday, March 13. There had been a rugby match on the Friday night followed by a football match on the Saturday afternoon. They argue that the standard procedure – to allow five days for the pitch to recover after a so-called “double-header” before an inspection – was not followed.

Claiming that they were sacked for “what we believe to be quite ridiculous and extremely hurtful allegations”, the duo added: “We’re proud men who have always taken immense pride in our work. We wouldn’t normally be able to afford a legal challenge like this against such formidable opposition. There is no access to legal aid and we didn’t earn big salaries so we hope the people at SMC understand why we had no choice but to take this route.”

An SMC spokesman told the Hull Daily Mail: “After seeking legal counsel the club have been advised not to comment on this matter due to its ongoing nature and potential for a further appeal.”