Watford legend Nigel Gibbs has won six-figure compensation for unlawful dismissal from his role as assistant manager of Leeds United.
Gibbs, who made 491 appearances for the Hornets and more starts than anyone else in the history of the club, is due £331,426 in damages after Mr Justice Langstaff ruled that his treatment by Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino amounted to constructive unlawful dismissal. The judge rejected Leeds’ claim that Gibbs had “simply chosen” to leave his post, rather than being forced out.
Gibbs joined the club, working as No 2 to Brian McDermott, in April 2013 on a £200,000-a-year contract, but resigned 15 months later, London’s High Court heard. After McDermott was fired, Gibbs worked under new manager David Hockaday, the former Watford coach, but a personality clash led to Gibbs being demoted to working with under-18 and under-21 players. Gibbs, 50, said his position at the club became untenable after Cellino told him he “could do some cleaning work” at the Thorp Arch training ground.
“My claim against Leeds United Football Club Limited was undertaken as a last resort after having to endure several weeks of increasingly intolerable behaviour from a number of senior figures involved with the Club, culminating in the club attempting to remove me from my role of Assistant Manager of its First team playing squad,” said Gibbs in a statement issued through his solicitor.
“I am pleased that the court found that I did not commit any breaches of my contract of employment, but saddened, both personally and for the supporters of the Club (who I hold in the highest regard) that I was forced to proceed all the way through a two-day High Court hearing in order for the Court to determine that I was wrongfully dismissed from my role at the Club.
“My hope now is that the Club will honour the decision of the Court and that we can all move on.”
After coming so close to rejoining Watford as assistant manager to Slavisa Jokanovic in December 2014, Gibbs had a spell at Millwall under Ian Holloway and is now working with former Watford academy director John McDermott with the cream of the young players at Tottenham Hotspur.
There is a Q&A with Gibbs, who was at Wembley on Sunday for the FA Cup semi-final, is this week’s issue of WD Sport. He talks about his greatest Watford moment (there were plenty to choose from!), not getting the nod for the playoff final at Wembley in 1999, his funniest teammate and circumstances surrounding his departure from Watford in 2005.