By Dominic Ponsford
Sun sports journalist John Sadler has won damages of more than
£40,000 after arguing that a football club chairman went back on a
verbally agreed book deal.
Sadler first met former Darlington chairman George Reynolds in 2000 when he wrote a series of articles about him for the Sun .
Sadler told the High Court that at the time he raised the possibility of ghost-writing Reynold’s autobiography.
Sadler met Reynolds a second time in September 2000 he claims the pair
shook hands on an agreement to write the book together. Sadler, who has
also written books with Brian Clough and Vinnie Jones, said they agreed
to split the proceeds 50/50.
Sadler described Reynolds as having
a “a real rags to riches story” – he was brought up in an orphanage and
after learning to read and write in prison amassed a £300 million
After putting together a synopsis Sadler persuaded Time
Warner Books to pay a £70,000 advance. After Reynolds did not return
the contract the pair had a conversation in October 2002 when Reynolds
told Sadler that he wouldn’t be doing the book.
Sadler said that
in the April 2003 he heard Reynolds talk on the radio about his
autobiography, which had been ghost-written by Patrick Lavelle.
claims he thought up the title, Cracked It, and came up with the
opening chapter idea, involving Reynolds arriving by helicopter at the
orphanage where he had been as a child.
Judge Elizabeth Slade
ruled that Sadler and Reynolds had made an oral agreement over the book
which constituted a legal contract.
She ordered Reynolds to pay
Sadler, represented by David Price Solicitors, £35,000 as his share of
the proposed advance and a further £1,000 for “loss of opportunity to
enhance his reputation”.
With interest the payout came to £41,020.