Michael Close taking the AFL and the Brisbane Lions to court

FORMER Wimmera footballer Michael Close has sought legal action against the AFL for injuries suffered at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.

Close filed a writ with the supreme court on February 15 seeking compensation from then club the Brisbane Lions, the Melbourne Stadiums – as the occupier of Etihad Stadium – and the AFL for losses which resulted from an injury suffered in round two of the 2015 season.

As a result of the injury Close missed the rest of the season and had to undergo rehabilitation before returning to the field the following season.

Time out of the game led to Close missing out on match payments and incentives in excess of $350,000 with then Lions coach Justin Leppitsch indicating the plan was for Close to play a significant role during the 2015 season.

His contract was not renewed at the of the 2017 season having played only a further 12 games for the club.

The writ claimed an unstable and irregular playing surface at the ground led to Close’s twisted or overextended left knee and the resulting non-contact anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Close’s claims for damages centre around the Brisbane Lions owing him the duty to take reasonable care not to expose him to unnecessary risk.

“The Brisbane Lions knew or ought to have known before the Second Round Match that the Etihad Stadium playing surface of the arena,” the writ said.

As a result it claims the club failed to provide a safe place of work and exposed Close to significant and unnecessary risk.

Similar claims were directed at Melbourne Stadiums and the AFL.

The writ said that Stadiums created a hazard due to not having carried out reasonable inspections and that the AFL’s approved use of Astroturf adjacent to the boundary both contributed to the injury.

At the time of the injury the Lions subsequently raised concerns about the safety of the surface while Etihad Stadium claimed an AFL report cleared the venue of any blame for the injury.

The writ states that less than a week after Close’s injury the artificial turf had been removed from the stadium. 

Close played football for Harrow-Balmoral in the Horsham District league before being drafted to the AFL.