Wednesday 18 July 2018

New Balance executive told Man United player they would 'copy Nike boots' after he claimed his 'damaged' his feet

Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on November 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on November 5, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)

Victoria Ward

A Manchester United footballer who is suing New Balance over “defective” boots was told by an executive at the sportswear company that they would “copy” Nike boots for him, it is claimed.

Marouane Fellaini, 30, has alleged that his New Balance boots had to be "steamed and stretched" by a United kit man before they would fit.

An investment company representing him has sued the American giant and is seeking £2 million (€2,245,640) damages.

According to court documents submitted to the High Court as evidence on Fellaini’s behalf, a New Balance executive vowed to fix the problem by copying boots manufactured by their competitor after the footballer complained directly to him in a string of WhatsApp messages.

In August 2016, Fellaini told the executive that the boots were too tight.

A month later, he said the ones he had been sent were “not comfy”. He then said that after a 90 minute game, he could not walk and was in “so much pain” he could not sleep.

Last October, he sent further messages alleging that the shape of the boot was “not good at all”.

The documents allege that the New Balance executive, whom it is understood no longer works for the company, responded by acknowledging “the poor quality and/or fit.”

In replies apparently sent to Fellaini last September, he said: “We can fix it my friend don’t worry the boot will be made exactly how you want it.”

He added that the “big dogs” were working on it as it was very important to them that he was comfy.

In a subsequent message he is alleged to have said: “Ouch… we are copying the Nike boot for you…”

The following month, he added: “Your new ones arrive very soon, they will be like Nike I promise my friend.”

Fellaini, a Belgian international, transferred to Manchester United in a £27.5 million deal in 2013.

New Balance has argued that they provided bespoke replacement boots for the footballer last year after he complained that he was "experiencing discomfort".

They claim the footballer sent WhatsApp messages indicating he was "content" with the fit of the replacements.

When a member of staff messaged Fellaini asking if the new boots were "a good fit for you better than previous?" he allegedly responded, "Yeah".

And in a WhatsApp exchange in January, when asked if the “fit feel” of the boots was good, Fellaini allegedly replied: "Perfect for the boots."

While the various claims and counter claims have been lodged at the High Court, no date has been fixed for any trial.

Barrister Ruth den Besten, who represents Rosalina Investments, outlined Fellaini's complaint in a claim statement stating that “the football boots supplied by New Balance were of poor quality and caused considerable damage to Mr Fellaini's feet.”

She added: “In order that the boots fit Mr Fellaini, they were required to be steamed and stretched by the Manchester United FC's assistant kit man.

"Mr Fellaini repeatedly communicated his frustration with the poor quality of the boots."

But Ian Mill QC, who represents New Balance, said in a written defence to Rosalina's claim, that Fellaini had been happy with replacements.

"The player orally informed Mr Simon Crawford of New Balance that he was experiencing discomfort when wearing certain boots," said Mr Mill.

"New Balance therefore arranged for the player to be provided with bespoke replacement boots."

Mr Mill added: "The player indicated in WhatsApp messages sent to Mr Ben Robson, an employee of New Balance, that he was content with the fit of the replacement boots."

New Balance, which says Fellaini should not get damages, did not respond to a request for comment last night.

Telegraph.co.uk

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