Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tribunal Told of United's Snub for Cancer-Hit Player

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Tribunal Told of United's Snub for Cancer-Hit Player

Article excerpt

Byline: Jamie Diffley Content editor

FORMER Newcastle United star Jonas Gutierrez has claimed he was frozen out of the first team by the club's hierarchy - which, he believes, viewed him as a liability after his cancer diagnosis.

In a statement to an employment tribunal hearing his claim for disability discrimination, the 32-year-old star also accused Newcastle of ensuring he did not make enough appearances to trigger a one-year contract extension.

Gutierrez, currently playing for Spanish side Deportivo La Coruna, spent seven seasons with Newcastle after joining the club in 2008, and underwent an operation to remove a tumour in his left testicle in October 2013.

In his statement to the tribunal, the midfielder said he was called into then manager Alan Pardew's office in early December 2013 - when he felt he was returning to full fitness - to be told that he did not feature in Newcastle's future plans, and was free to agree terms with another club.

Describing the meeting, Gutierrez said: "This was the first time I - or any of my representatives - had been notified of this and came as a great shock, so soon after my cancer treatment.

"I was very shocked by the club's sudden change of heart about me, particularly as I had played in 194 games for the club at this point and was one of the key first team players."

Pointing out that the decision was taken when he still had 19 months remaining on his contract, Gutierrez added: "I believe that the reason for this was due to my cancer diagnosis and very recent operation to remove the tumour.

"I think they feared my illness would mean that I could no longer play at the highest level and they considered me to be a liability rather than an asset to the club.

"I got the impression that they thought I couldn't be the same player again after such an illness or that I would be bound to have lingering effects, other episodes of illness off the back of it.

"This caused me a lot of distress, given my hard work and commitment for the club in the preceding five and a half years."

Gutierrez, who earned around PS40,000-a-week during his time with Newcastle, is reported to be seeking a payment of around PS2 million after missing out on an "automatic" 12-month extension to a four-year contract, which would have kicked in if he had started 80 games between 2011 and 2015. …

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