Former Watford Medic Claims He Was Sacked Because He's English

Watford's former medical chief is suing the club on grounds that he lost his job when Walter Mazzarri was appointed head coach because he was English rather than Italian.

Physiotherapist Richard Collinge, who was head of medical services at Watford, is taking the club to an employment tribunal after being sacked in September 2016, according to The Times.

Collinge held the post for less than two years but had previously worked at the club for nine years, between 2002 and 2011, before leaving to join Malky Mackay at Cardiff City.

He returned in 2015 but was let go shortly after Walter Mazzarri was appointed Watford's head coach and he appointed six people to his backroom staff, all of which were Italian. Mazzarri was in charge at Vicarage Road for just one season before being sacked.

The opening of a new medical center at the club was said to be behind Collinge's departure as part of restructuring, according to a report in the Watford Observer in September 2016. Giorgio Gasparini would return to the club as head of physiotherapy, having previously worked under Italian coach Gianfranco Zola.

Watford Badge
Watford badge at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester, England, January 2. Watford's former physiotherapist is taking the club to an employment tribunal over his sacking. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Mazzarri, who is now manager of Torino and was replaced by Marco Silva, said the decision to remove Collinge was entirely Watford's. "I had nothing to do with this decision," he said after Collinge's dismissal was made public. "I couldn't have influenced it."

Watford are believed to have denied the allegations and, according to The Times, will argue that the decision was down to the creation of the new medical center and appointment of a permanent doctor. Dr. Ian Hamilton was brought in as head of medicine at the club's training headquarters in London Colney, with the club previously having just sporadic visits from a doctor.

Collinge went on to work for Montreal Impact, a Canadian team in Major League Soccer, as well as working for the Scotland national team during Mackay's tenure as interim manager in November.

Collinge did not respond when asked to comment.