Ossett United have named Wayne Benn as their new manager as the BetVictor Northern Premier League club fights for survival.
The 43-year-old was appointed on Tuesday, a day after United set up a crowd-funding appeal to help settle the £135,000 court order they’ve been ordered to pay after losing a landmark legal case over an injury to a player.
Benn, pictured, stood down at Hemsworth Miners Welfare on Monday to succeed Andy Welsh as the club’s Go Fund Me page topped the £3,000 mark within 24 hours of being set up.
United fear they could be forced to sell their Ingfield home after a court in Manchester ruled in favour of semi-professional player Reece Welsh who suffered a broken ankle while playing for Radcliffe Borough in a game against Ossett Town in 2015.
Welsh was awarded just under £20,000 in damages but Ossett are also liable for the legal costs, bringing the total to £135,000.
United were founded in 2018 following the merger of Ossett Albion and Ossett Town. The liability was transferred to Ossett Town Ltd – also formed in 2018 – who own Ingfield and currently rent the ground lease free to Ossett United.
After the ruling, United said: “As a club Ossett United are consulting as a board with their trusted advisors and their landlords, Ossett Town, as to the options that lay ahead of them with the looming option of selling the ground currently being the talk of the town.”
Ossett United chairman Phil Smith believes the ramifications of the ruling could hit numerous Non-League clubs and lead to an “immeasurable” number of players suing opposing teams if they suffer serious injury.
He told the Wakefield Express: “I have had other chairman throughout the league making contact and raising their own concerns.
“They are worried that an immeasurable amount of claims can now be raised from previous incidents at their club resulting in them actually losing their football club, it’s quite a scary situation we are all now in.
“I urge all sports clubs to check their insurance policies immediately, however, that will only protect future events, not the ones in the past like the one that now threatens our club.”
United parted company with the club’s first manager Welsh two weeks ago before recruiting Benn.
The former Goole boss took Hemsworth from the NCEL First Division to third in the Premier and takes over a side sitting in 12th spot in the NPL’s North West Division.
Since handing his boots up as a player, he’s also managed Goole and been the assistant manager at Bradford Park Avenue and Guiseley. His number two at Hemsworth, Andy Hayward, has also switched to United.
As a player, Benn started his career at Bradford City before dropping into Non-League where he played made more than 400 appearances for Avenue.
A club statement said: “With a wealth of experience, knowledge and contacts within the game Benn deserves the opportunity to manage further up the pyramid and this is an opportunity we are delighted to offer him.
Benn, who officially takes charge on Thursday, said: “At this time I am delighted to get the opportunity to manager Ossett United, a club who I have followed closely since their merger.
“Recognising the squad in relation to the current league position, I am confident that if we look ahead rather than over our shoulder we can all achieve better times.”
He added: “I am very keen to put a smile on the fans of the club who clearly give it tremendous support.”
Image courtesy of YouTube