By GRAHAM DUNBAR
GENEVA (AP) – Premier League side Leeds have lost a multimillion-dollar pandemic-related transfer dispute Friday with German club Leipzig.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport removed from office an appeal by Leeds against a FIFA ruling that ordered the English club to pay Leipzig 6.7 million euros ($6.6 million) for French striker Jean-Kévin Augustin.
CAS said the money was due as the first installment of a 21 million euro ($20.6 million) deal to buy Augustin which was activated after an initial loan move because Leeds were promoted to the Premier League in 2020.
This promotion was obtained after the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019-20 season and forced the season to end several weeks later than expected. Leeds argued the delay nullified the loan deal.
“The club will now carefully consider all of their legal options with a view to an immediate appeal,” said Leeds, which is part-owned by the San Francisco 49ers ownership group.
Leeds were in the Second Division in January 2020 when they signed the former France Under-21 striker on loan from Leipzig. The deal required Leeds to sign Augustin on July 1, 2020, on a permanent deal if promotion to the Premier League is won.
However, English football came to a halt in early March as the COVID-19 outbreak spread and Leeds finished first in the league later in July despite Augustin barely playing.
European football contracts usually expire on June 30 and FIFA, which oversees transfer rules, gave emergency advice in the pandemic that “contracts should be extended until the season actually ends”.
Leipzig took their case to FIFA when Leeds argued their obligation to buy Augustin lapsed because the loan expired before the promotion was clinched.
The CAS said that “the purchase obligation was triggered at the end of the 2019-20 season, even though the season ended later than expected due to the disruption caused by the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. -19”.
CAS decisions can be challenged in the Swiss Supreme Court, but only on narrow procedural grounds which rarely succeed.
Leipzig said in its statement that there were “no arguments expected to challenge the CAS decision”.
Augustin left Leeds and joined French club Nantes on a free transfer. The 25-year-old has opted for another free transfer this season to join current club Basel in Switzerland.
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