A football physio who romped with a colleague in a club’s portable building and sent her an intimate picture of himself can keep his job, a tribunal ruled today (tues).
Liam Kershaw, 42, who is married with children, began an affair with the admin clerk after a club Christmas party in 2014, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.
He was working for Liverpool FC at the time and is now working at Huddersfield Town.
They enjoyed sex sessions while up to 100 schoolboy players were using the academy facilities outside.
Kershaw was caught with the 29-year-old when a colleague found the portable building locked and tried to gain entry.
The relationship soured and she began shouting insults at him at the club.
She also threatened to tell Kershaw’s wife about the affair in series of ‘nasty’ messages about his family.
Kershaw admitted taking part in sexual activity on club premises on four occasions between February and September 2015 and sending an indecent picture from his work phone.
He could have faced a ban but the HCPC panel today (tues) found his fitness to practice as a physio is not impaired.
Kershaw said his new employers at Huddersfield Town were aware of the proceedings against him when they offered him the job.
Panel Chair Penny Griffith said: “In terms of the personal component the panel is of the view that the registrant has shown considerable remorse in relation to his failings.
“He has explained how he would respond differently if he found himself in a similar situation in the future.
“These issues did not affect his personal practice during the allegations or since.
“The registrant has advised that this was a huge lapse in judgement and was completely out of character.”
The panel chair found that the risk of repetition was ‘minimal’, and that Kershaw’s fitness to practice was not impaired.
Kershaw was employed by Liverpool as the under 18 lead physio in the academy’s medical department between 2010 and 2016.
Laura Ryan, for the HCPC, said Kershaw and the admin worker had a ‘flirtation’ at the Christmas party and engaged in sexual activity at work four times.
“During 2015 this developed into a short term sexual relationship,” she said.
“In one incident a colleague found a locked treatment room in a Portakabin, as he pulled out his keys, the registrant appeared looking surprised and this lady was inside.
“At this time it is said that he sent a graphic photograph of himself on his work phone to her.”
Kershaw initially ‘swore blind’ he did not have sex with the woman, but later admitted sexual relations when confronted with the picture of his penis he had sent her.
Any of the 100 young players on the side could have walked in on them when the sexual activity was taking place, the tribunal heard.
Kershaw reported the woman to the club in March 2016 after she began “shouting derogatory comments about him and his wife” while at work and sent him abusive emails.
She sent a message to Kershaw while he was away at an international tournament asking: “Did you die on the plane?”, the hearing was told.
Kershaw, who was the safeguarding officer at the academy, has a long association with Liverpool FC.
He spent eight years as a community coach, had a four-year stint as a part time physiotherapist and a further five-year spell working as a full-time physio for the academy.
Kershaw studied Sport Science at Liverpool John Moores University and physiotherapy at The Manchester Metropolitan University before completing an MA at the University of Salford.
While working at Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust he began working at the club as a community coach in 2001.
After working with Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Kershaw was a part time, then full time physio at the academy.
He left the post in 2016 to move to Huddersfield.
Sue Sleeman, representing Kershaw, said: “The registrant acknowledged from the very outset he jeopardised, as he put it, his job, his career and his family by his conduct.
“The registrant has fully learned his lesson and there is no risk of repetition.
“The case involves sexual activity on a small number of occasions between consenting adults in private.”
Kershaw denied his capacity to work as a physio is impaired and said he knew what he was doing was wrong but felt flattered getting attention from a younger woman.
He explained: “If I am honest I didn’t think it was a very good idea all the way through, it was something I got carried away with. I got distracted by someone giving me attention and being flirtatious.
“All along I knew it was wrong but I was drawn into it, it took me a while to come to my senses and put a stop to it.
“Someone was giving me more attention than I would normally receive and I was flattered by that.
“It is something I deeply regret, causing that embarrassment.’
He admitted there were times when he could not be sure if the door was locked when they were alone together during work hours.
Kershaw said that the emails were getting worse and when he went abroad in September he received a text ‘out of the blue’ from the woman asking if he had died on the plane.
Kershaw said he told the club about the relationship because he could not see any other way out.
“I had to put an end to it,” he said.
“There was a lot of abuse directed towards myself, verbal, written emails, and also towards my family.
“After nearly six months of unwanted contact from her I couldn’t find another way to stop it other than to contact the club.
“I clearly made a big mistake – it is something I will regret for the rest of my life, what I did.
“I did something with a colleague a work and I am married, I have got children.”
He said his relationship with the woman did not affect his ability as a physio and he still managed to ‘put it to one side’ and attend matches and treat the players.
Kershaw said he had learned not to ‘give in to temptation’ and was ‘more focused’ on his wife and family.
He said he was ‘lucky’ to still have them and just has to look at them to know he would never make the same mistake again.