The Colombian winger, 22, joined the League One club in 2012 from West Ham, but was dismissed last year after a newspaper sting alleged that he had been engaged in spot-fixing. Mr Montano was implicated in a Sun on Sunday story which claimed that he had tried to get a yellow card in a game with Wolverhampton Wanderers in exchange for money. However, despite no criminal charges being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, Oldham summarily terminated Mr Montano’s employment last year. The club later stated that Mr Montano’s dismissal was based on disciplinary proceedings and that his employment was not terminated as a result of legal proceedings.
The National Crime Agency (“NCA”) has now released Mr Montano (as well as the five other players arrested) from bail after Mahzer Mahmood, who was the undercover journalist behind the story, was later found to entrap victims to create crimes. The NCA’s investigation is, however, ongoing, Around 30 convictions are secured on the evidence of Mr Mahmood are now being reviewed by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Following his release from bail Mr Montano’s legal team has stated that he will sue the club for wrongful dismissal and the value of the claim is estimated to be around £100,000.
Mr Montano, speaking from Colombia, stated to the BBC: “At the time I felt like my life had ended. Nobody would listen to me. My agent turned his back on me and we were thrown out of the club when I went in with my PFA representative. I always said that there was more to this than met the eye. I wanted to give my version of events but nobody would listen.”
The chairman of Oldham Athletic, Mr Simon Corney, told BBC Sport: “We find this development very surprising given that the National Crime Agency’s investigation into Cristian is ongoing. However, should this go to court then we look forward to making public the various issues with Cristian that led to our decision to terminate his contract.”
Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Wrongful dismissal claims are based upon alleged breaches of contract upon the termination of an employment relationship – Mr Montano will be claiming that he should have been paid salary and other benefits that he should have received when Oldham summarily dismissed him in 2012.”