Several members of the website Owlstalk, an unofficial Sheffield Wednesday fans forum, are being threatened with legal action by Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.
- One member has a court date later this month (September 2007)
- The owner of the website is being threatened with legal action to hand over personal details of, originally, 34 members of the website. On 19th September, a statement was released stating that legal action was being taken against 13 fans plus the site owner.
- Another fan faced legal proceedings, but these were dropped when it was found the defendant was telling the truth. The man in question is now faced with legal costs upwards of £4800, which the club hasn't paid.
- Lawyers predict that should all the cases go to court, it will cost the club between £4-8million, despite the club being over £20million in debt.
- A statement released by Mark Lewis at George Davies Solicitors LLP on 19th September 2007 said
"On 14 September 2007 solicitors K & L Gates acting for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club Limited, its board of directors, its Chief Executive, Kaven Walker and manager Brian Laws issued proceedings in the High Court in London against a fan, Neil Hargreaves seeking the names and details of another 13 fans who they wished to sue for libels posted on an internet website between 24 July 2007 and 3 August 2007.
Mark Lewis of George Davies LLP solicitors in Manchester said, “I have never before known such a reaction. It seems that anyone who dares to criticise the board, risks getting a hugely expensive legal case against them. It’s only football. Emotions run high...."
- On 20th September, Brian Laws, team manager, made a statement about his involvement -
"It has been suggested that I wish to pursue legal action against certain supporters but I would like to state categorically there is no truth in this whatsoever.
I am not suing anybody and my name is not going to be involved with anything of that nature. It surprises me that this has been suggested because I have no intention of taking any such course of action against any supporter"
- On 18th October 2007, the judge threw out 9 of the 13 claims still remaining.
- On 22nd October 2007, a user of the website concerned, and one of those facing possible legal action - HALFPINT - calculated that as a 70 year old resident in the United States, the most the club could take from her if it won legal proceedings was £119.07 per year. Yet it would cost the club £250,000 in legal fees to get it.
I personally believe it is shameful that an organisation which has had such a rapport with its fans over 140 years of existence should stoop so low, as to proceed with legal action against people who are, in my belief, innocent fans.
We, the undersigned, call on the board of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club to abandon legal proceedings against its own fans.
The Justice for Owls petition to Sheffield Wednesday Football Club was written by Lee Hicklin and is in the category Justice at GoPetition.