Football Club Worse Off After Pitch ‘Improvement’ Works

Football pitchComplaints about contractors are regrettably common but it is rare for their work to be so defective that their clients would have been better off had they never been engaged in the first place. However, in one case, the Court of Appeal ruled that a football club was let down so entirely by a firm employed to improve its pitches that it was not obliged to pay any part of the latter’s bill.

The club employed the firm to top-dress two of its pitches and to sew fresh seeds after using a machine to make holes in the soil before filling them in with sand and rubber particles to aid drainage. However, the work yielded no improvement in the condition of the pitches, having been carried out in very wet conditions.

The firm raised an invoice for over £16,000 but a judge subsequently ruled that the club did not have to pay anything. In dismissing the firm’s challenge to that ruling, the Court of Appeal noted that the standard of the pitches was left worse than it would have been had no work been done at all. In those circumstances, the club had received no part of the performance which it had contracted for.

The club, however, failed in its claim for damages to reflect the cost of remedial work and staff overtime. The Court found that, despite its failings, the firm could not be held liable to cover the cost of another contractor upgrading the pitches. The Court noted that to rule otherwise would result in the club obtaining a substitute performance of the contract effectively for nothing.