The Jonas Gutierrez tribunal hearing regarding claims over disability discrimination, has started today.
The former Newcastle winger claims that following his final conversation with Alan Pardew, he felt it was made clear that it was Mike Ashley who was behind the decision to get rid of him, by ensuring he didn’t make enough appearances to trigger a one year contract extension.
After the removal of a tumour in his left testicle and subsequent treatment, Jonas Gutierrez returned to the club in December 2013 and was told in a meeting with Alan Pardew that he didn’t feature in Newcastle’s future plans and was free to agree terms with another club.
Describing that December 2013 meeting with Alan Pardew, Gutierrez said:
“This was the first time I, or any of my representatives, had been notified of this and it came as a great shock, so soon after my cancer treatment.
“I was very shocked by the club’s sudden change of heart about me, particularly as I had played in 194 games for the club at this point and was one of the key first team players.
“I believe that the reason for this was due to my cancer diagnosis and very recent operation to remove the tumour.
“I think they feared my illness would mean that I could no longer play at the highest level and they considered me to be a liability rather than an asset to the club.
“I got the impression that they thought I couldn’t be the same player again after such an illness or that I would be bound to have lingering effects, other episodes of illness off the back of it.
“This caused me a lot of distress, given my hard work and commitment for the club in the preceding five-and-a-half years.”
Jonas Gutierrez is suing for around £2 million (equivalent of a year’s wages)after missing out on an ‘automatic’ 12 month extension to his Newcastle contract, which would have kicked in if he had started 80 or more games between 2011 and 2015.
Jonas spent the second half of that 2013/14 season with Norwich on loan, before then eventually coming back to Newcastle (after spending time in Argentina having chemotherapy) and playing a part in the final months of the 2014/15 relegation fight, scoring in the final game of the season against West Ham to help ensure United stayed up.
The player actually making 78 starts and five appearances as a substitute and said in his statement:
“It is notable that during my chemotherapy treatment, neither the manager, Alan Pardew, or any club directors contacted me to see how I was feeling or to congratulate me on my recovery.
“Shortly after my return to the club (December 2014) from chemotherapy, I was called into Mr Pardew’s office.
“Mr Pardew apologised for the way he had treated me in December 2013, when he told me I was not wanted by the club any longer but he said that this was not his decision.
“I understood by this that the decision was actually that of the club’s owner, Mike Ashley.”
At today’s proceedings, it is reported that Jonas Gutierrez broke down in tears during heated exchanges with lawyers representing Mike Ashley and Newcastle United.
The Guardian saying that the club’s lawyer, Sean Jones, accused Jonas of being ‘just in it for the money’.
Revealing that he was still having weekly counselling sessions following his treatment by Newcastle United, Gutierrez answered:
“I am not here for the money. I want to do this for all people who have problems with their employers.”
Jonas Gutierrez also criticised Newcastle United’s doctor, Paul Catterson, who he says took six months to take his concerns seriously. Jonas having first told him in May 2013 that he was experiencing pain in his left testicle during sexual intercourse or if he was wearing tight pants.
“He (Paul Catterson) simply told me not to worry and dismissed these symptoms as nothing serious.”
Six months later, Jonas says he eventually began to take the player’s concerns seriously and booked him in for a scan, which was when doctors discovered a tumour in his left testicle.
Then worried at the length of time taken for the tumour to be diagnosed and the alleged failings by the club doctor, Jonas Gutierrez decided to have his treatment back home in Argentina, which he paid for himself.
The hearing continues.