Sacked coach Grant Thomas wins pay claim - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sacked coach Grant Thomas wins pay claim

04/07/2008 04:14:07 PM Comments (0)

Sacked St Kilda AFL coach Grant Thomas has won a major off-field victory with his former club ordered by a court to pay him more than $200,000 in leave and severance pay.

The payout includes $100,000 the club offered Thomas to keep quiet after his 2006 sacking, when the Saints feared he would destabilise the playing group by speaking to uncontracted players.

A Victorian County Court judge on Friday also ordered Thomas receive $90,000 in annual leave entitlements he had not been paid.

The court agreed with Thomas that the club had unlawfully asked him to sign away his leave entitlements during an important team meeting days before the 2006 elimination final against Melbourne.

Thomas, who was sacked after St Kilda lost the elimination final, was also awarded $20,000 in legal costs and more than $15,000 in interest.

In a statement, the St Kilda Football Club indicated it would consider appealing.

In her judgment, Judge Katherine Bourke found Thomas' oral severance agreement was valid despite him not signing a release document.

He was, therefore, entitled to the $100,000 payment, she said.

"The club's primary concern, in addition to effecting the resignation, was to ensure Thomas did not disparage the club, and in consideration of that undertaking it was agreed (Thomas) would be paid $100,000," Judge Bourke found.

Wearing an expression similar to when he scored one of his biggest victories with the club - the 2004 pre-season cup - Thomas could barely manage a smile as he spoke to reporters.

"The judge has made a decision, we are happy with the decision and we are thrilled that the situation is finally closed," Thomas said.

In a statement, the St Kilda Football Club said they regretted their relationship with Thomas reached a point that needed to be resolved in court.

Attempts were made to resolve the matter outside court, the statement said.

"In light of the amount at stake, the former board led by Rod Butterss, believed that in the best interests of its members that it must proceed to defend the claim," the statement said.

"The current board attempted to settle the matter for a six figure sum but was unable to reach an agreement with Mr Thomas."

St Kilda Football Club president Greg Westaway said it would consider an appeal.

"Together with my board, I will carefully consider the next steps and we won't be making any hasty decisions. We will review our legal advice and make a decision within 14 days," Mr Westaway said.

Thomas, who coached 123 games, for 63 wins, 59 losses and a draw, took the club to the preliminary final twice.

He was the fifth St Kilda coach in 15 years.

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