NEWPORT County skipper Ian Hillier who broke his leg in three places following an horrendous accident this month has been sacked by the club.
The former Tottenham and Luton Town defender, who was injured cutting down trees while working as a tree surgeon’s assistant, was informed by letter yesterday his contract is terminated.
County told Hillier he has ten days to appeal the decision and he has confirmed to the Argus he will do so having already consulted the Professional Footballers’ Association.
The Exiles are confident they are on sound legal ground having consulted club secretary and solicitor John Allison, while chairman Chris Blight has confirmed the club will accept any decision made in appeal, with FIFA and the Football Association of Wales both set to deliberate.
Mr Allison said: “As Ian has disclosed to you, we wrote to Ian to inform him of the decision following a board meeting.
“He sustained his injuries in a capacity where he wasn’t representing the club and is now unable to perform his duties for the club.
“In the past we have continued to pay injured players, but this case is different.”
Blight said: “Ian was a respected captain and player of Newport County AFC and was injured in the course of his day job.
“It means he can’t play an active role for the club and after considerable consideration we have come to this decision, but it certainly wasn’t taken lightly.”
The PFA confirmed to the Argus that Hillier has been in touch.
An FAW spokeswoman said: “We are aware of this situation, but can’t make any further comment at this time.”
A distraught Hillier admitted to the Argus he feels hugely let down by the club: “I received the letter yesterday and I am already appealing the decision. I can’t go into the specifics, but I feel I have grounds to appeal.
“The letter explained that the decision was because I didn’t get injured performing for the club and now can’t fulfil my obligations.
“I feel really hurt and let down, I have had no offers of reduced wages or anything like that, the chairman visited me at home which I thought was great, but he made it clear he couldn’t make me any promises when I asked if the club would stand by me.
“The gaffer (Dean Holdsworth) says he can get me into Lilleshall for my rehabilitation (Holdsworth is a former players’ chairman of the PFA) which is great, but I’ve got a family to support and it doesn’t put food on the table. I feel really gutted, I love the club and the supporters have always been brilliant with me.
"I had plenty of interest in the summer from other clubs, but I wanted to stay here and help the club into the Conference.
“I don’t harbour ill feeling towards the manager, because his priority is to look after the team, I don’t believe this was his decision.
“Finally I want to thank the fans. They’ve been brilliant with me and it saddens me to know I won’t play in front of them again.”
Manager Dean Holdsworth said: “I have been in touch with Ian and I will support him in any way I can, I am very sad it has come to this and he knows I will support him any way I can.”
Meanwhile, the Tiverton Town website was last night reporting that County striker Phil Walsh has signed a three-month loan deal with the club.
More details in tomorrow’s Argus sport.