A FORMER Leeds United employee who successfully claimed unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination against the club has told a tribunal she fears she will never get a job in football again.
Lucy Ward, who worked for Leeds United for 17 years, was sacked from her role as head of education in 2015 for gross misconduct.
I know Massimo Cellino, nobody switches a light on in that place without him knowing about it.Lucy Ward
An employment tribunal in April ruled she had been unfairly dismissed, but she told a remedy hearing today that winning her case against the football club, she fears she will never work in the sport again due to the stigma attached to her name.
Ms Ward said: “I don’t think another club [has hired me] because of the fallout.
“I think it is pretty strange when someone has been as successful as I have and you don’t get headhunted because that’s what normally happens in football.
“I think clubs don’t want to work with someone who has been sacked for gross misconduct.
“You wouldn’t have people like that working with under 18s.
“If you want to work with children then you have to be squeaky clean and rightly so.”
Ms Ward said she had also been angry at Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino’s refusal to offer her a public apology after she was vindicated during a employment tribunal in April.
She said: “Mr Cellino had ample opportunity to stop what happened to me from happening to me.
“He did an interview in the newspaper refusing to apologise.
“The club statement and the interviews by Mr Cellino makes people think there is no smoke without fire.
“I have a problem with the club not admitting they were wrong, not apologising and rubbishing the tribunal’s decision.
“Mr Cellino claiming he only met me twice but I spent every single match day with him.
“He should have made a public apology to me.
“He shouldn’t have ever said what he said afterwards.
“I wanted him to apologise and tell the truth.
“He was more bothered what people thought of him and he didn’t bother to turn up to the tribunal and defend his actions.”
Lucy Bairstow, representing Leeds United, told the hearing Mr Cellino had since written to apologise to Ms Ward through his solicitors.
In the letter he recognised the club’s mistakes, apologised and recognised the damage to her reputation.
He also offered Ms Ward her job back at Leeds United.
Asked by Ms Bairstow why she hadn’t accepted Mr Cellino’s offer, Ms Ward said: “I know Massimo Cellino, nobody switches a light on in that place without him knowing about it.
“He knew what I went through.
“Mr Cellino orchestrated people in the club to deliberately lie about me.
“He thinks if I went back to the club then everything would be okay.
“It’s a very toxic environment and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would expect me to go back.”
She added: “I hope no one has to go through what I have gone through.
“I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“He [Cellino] sacked me, that was as offensive as it gets. They just removed me from the job I loved for 17 years. That is as hurtful as it could be.
“The club threatened to sack people for speaking to me. I thought it was over the top.
“I hadn’t murdered anybody.
“This has changed me life. If I thought about it all the time I wouldn’t go out.”
Massimo Cellino was noticeable by his absence at the hearing in Leeds, West Yorks., today (Fri) - and Ms Bairstow told the court: “[Cellino] observed the number of press attending and felt unable to give his evidence because of the press attendance.
“Otherwise he would be giving evidence but felt he couldn’t because of the press presence and left the tribunal.”