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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Football League loses damages bid
Leeds' Liam Miller challenges Preston's Brian O'Neil in last season's Championship play-offs
Championship clubs like Preston (r) suffered after ITV Digital's collapse
The Football League has lost its claim for 150m in damages from its former legal advisers over a collapsed 140m television deal.

The league, which represents teams in the lower three divisions outside the Premier League, was ordered to pay 90% of solicitors Edge Ellison's costs.

The league was suing over its advice on a deal with pay-TV company ITV Digital which collapsed in 2002.

The judge found two breaches of duty for which he awarded just 4.

The Football League is now liable for most of the legal costs of the case which legal experts say could be as high as 5m.

The league said it was "disappointed" by the findings but it said it would "draw a line under" the matter.

ITV Digital collapsed after it could no longer afford its payments to the league.

That left some clubs in serious financial straits and unable to pay players.

Some had invested in ground improvements in anticipation of funds which never materialised.

Broadcasting rights

The league had been seeking 150m from Edge Ellison (now Hammonds Solicitors) - making it one of the biggest professional negligence claims.

It had claimed the legal firm failed in its duty to protect its commercial interests during negotiations with ITV Digital (formerly ONdigital) for the licensing of its broadcasting rights in 2000.

It claimed it should have been advised to seek guarantees from ITV Digital's owners Carlton and Granada.

However, Mr Justice Rimer at the High Court ruled the league knew about the risks.

Peter Crossley, Hammonds' managing partner, said: "This judgment confirms that the Football League's losses on the collapse of ITV Digital were the result of its own decisions and conduct, not those of Edge Ellison."

Football league chairman Lord Mawhinney said: "The collapse of ITV Digital marked a watershed for the Football League and its clubs.

"In the years since, the league has re-branded and delivered a programme of good governance reforms designed to deliver financial stability and long-term sustainability to its clubs. This will continue."




SEE ALSO
ITV Digital crisis: Who is to blame?
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