GENEVA (AP)Premier League team Leeds lost a multi-million dollar pandemic-related transfer dispute with German club Leipzig on Friday.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed an appeal by Leeds against a FIFA ruling that had ordered the English club to pay Leipzig 6.7 million euros ($6.6 million) for French forward Jean-Kevin Augustin.
CAS said the money was due as the first installment of a 21 million euro ($20.6 million) deal to buy Augustin that was activated after an initial loan move because Leeds won promotion to the Premier League in 2020.
That promotion was achieved after the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2019-20 season and forced the season to be finished several weeks later than scheduled. Leeds argued the delay nullified the loan contract.
”The club will now review carefully all of its legal options with a view to an immediate appeal,” said Leeds, which is part-owned by the group that owns the San Francisco 49ers.
Leeds was in the second division in January 2020 when it signed the former France under-21 forward on loan from Leipzig. The agreement required Leeds to sign Augustin on July 1, 2020, on a permanent deal if promotion to the Premier League was won.
However, English soccer paused early in March as the COVID-19 outbreak spread and Leeds finished first in the league later in July despite Augustin barely playing.
European soccer contracts typically expire on June 30 and FIFA, which oversees transfer rules, gave emergency advice in the pandemic that ”contracts be extended until such time that the season does actually end.”
Leipzig took its case to FIFA when Leeds argued its obligation to buy Augustin lapsed because the loan expired before promotion was clinched.
CAS said ”the Purchase Obligation had been triggered at the end of the 2019-2020 season, even though the season had concluded later than expected due to the disruption caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
CAS rulings can be challenged at the Swiss supreme court but only on narrow procedural grounds which rarely succeed.
Leipzig said in its statement there was ”no expected argument with which to challenge CAS’s ruling.”
Augustin left Leeds and joined French club Nantes on a free transfer. The 25-year-old player moved on another free transfer this season to join current club Basel in Switzerland.
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