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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dagenham Goalie Tony Roberts' Possible Return to League Football

Ilford Recorder Chairman looks for compromise in Robbo insurance claim
15 February 2007

DAGENHAM & Redbridge chairman Dave Andrews has revealed he is hopeful of striking a compromise with the insurance company that paid out £150,000 to goalkeeper Tony Roberts when he was forced to retire from the football league, writes NEIL TRAINIS.

If the Daggers achieve promotion this season and Roberts goes on to play in a League Two match, then he will be liable to pay back the cash awarded to the one-time Welsh international and semi-professional international in 2000 after a broken finger sustained while on the books of Millwall forced him to quit league football.

A switch to the non-league game brought with it a move to St Albans and then Daggers, where he has played for the last six seasons, though any plans to re-establish himself as a league goalkeeper have had to be shelved until the insurance money is paid back.

Roberts is rumoured to be keen for Daggers' committee to ease that financial burden by offering to pay some or all of the fee which, in the event of promotion, would allow him to join his team-mates in the Football League for the first time in the club's history.

Daggers manager John Still is a known admirer of Roberts, with the player boasting invaluable experience and 130 league appearances under his belt during spells at Millwall and Queens Park Rangers, where he is currently goalkeeping coach.

Andrews was not adverse to the proposition that his committee would lay out the money, though he baulked at the figure of £150,000 and suggested it would take a concession on the part of the insurance company for the parties to reach an agreement.

Roberts, who plays with a protective splint over the damaged finger, has been out of league football for the past eight seasons and that, coupled with the fact he is 37, has convinced Andrews that the insurance company may lower their demands.

"I believe the insurance company can do a deal. I really don't see it as a big problem. Tony's been out of the (professional) game for nearly 10 years so I wouldn't have thought it is going to be a lot of money," Andrews said.

"If it's not much money, we could work something out. We'd certainly look at it and see what can be done. We don't want to lose Tony. He's one of the best, if not the best goalkeeper in the league and he's great to have in the dressing room.

"After 10 years, I don't think we'll have to pay the whole amount. He's still got a bad finger and his age will probably bring the price down. That's how I'm looking at it. After all, if I was the insurance company, something is better than nothing.

"It's a case of getting on the phone to the insurance company and seeing what happens," Andrews added. "That's up to John (Still) to sort out and he'll be doing that soon. Ilford Recorder

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