Jonas Gutierrez has succeeded in his disability discrimination case against Newcastle United, with a tribunal ruling he was dropped from the first team because of his cancer.
The Argentine midfielder was suing his former club over the manner of his departure at the end of last season, following his battle with testicular cancer.
The employment tribunal also ruled the club made it impossible for the 32-year-old to trigger a contract extension through appearances.
Further claims of unfavourable treatment and harassment were dismissed by the tribunal in Birmingham, and a remedy hearing, at which compensation will be discussed, is to be scheduled in due course.
Gutierrez had been a first-team regular at Newcastle prior to his diagnosis in 2013, but accused the club of considering him a liability following his surgery.
The ruling read: “Prior to his diagnosis… he was consistently maintaining his place in the first-team starting line-up on merit, and had done so for five years. This playing history is all the more remarkable given how highly competitive the world of Premier League football is.
“Yet just over two weeks after the claimant [Gutierrez] returned to the club in November 2013 following his diagnosis and treatment, and at a point when he was match fit and returning to action, he was told that he no longer featured in the club’s future plans.
“It was notable moreover that during the respondent’s [Newcastle] planning meeting held on 14 October 2013 (the day of the scan but before the results were known) there was no indication of the respondent having made a decision that the claimant would be leaving the club.
“For these reasons we conclude that the decision made by the respondent to drop the claimant was because of the claimant’s cancer.”
Gutierrez’s reduced opportunity to reach the number of games required to trigger a new deal as a result of his absence was also deemed unfair.
Former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew was among the witnesses at the tribunal, but his evidence came in for criticism.
“Mr Pardew was able to deliver his evidence in a confident, convincing and articulate way… [but] the detail of what was said was not necessarily as credible as the manner in which the evidence was delivered,” the ruling claimed.
The evidence provided by Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley was described as “evasive and lacking in credibility” at times.
Gutierrez currently plays for Deportivo La Coruna in Spain.