LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Premier League team Leeds lost a multimillion-dollar pandemic-related transfer dispute with German club Leipzig on Friday.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Leeds’ appeal against a FIFA ruling ordering the English club to pay Leipzig 6.7 million euros ($6.6 million) for French forward Jean-Kevin Augustin.
CAS said the money was meant to be the first installment of a 21 million euro ($20.6 million) deal but was affected when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the 2019-20 season. The season finally ended a few weeks behind schedule.
Leeds were in the Second Division in January 2020 when they signed the France Under-21 on loan from Leipzig. According to the contract, Leeds are required to sign him on August 1, 2020 for 21 million euros ($23 million) if the team is to be promoted to the Premier League.
However, English football came to a standstill in early March as the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and Leeds finished first in the league in July despite barely playing in August.
European soccer contracts typically expire on June 30 and FIFA, which oversees transfer rules, has issued emergency advice in the pandemic that “contracts cannot be extended until the season actually ends.”
Leipzig took their case to FIFA after Leeds argued that Augustine’s loan deal had expired before they won promotion so he did not need to sign permanently.
“The purchase obligation was initiated at the end of the 2019-2020 season, although the season ended later than expected due to the disruption caused by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” CAS said.
Augustine was not wanted at Leipzig and had a spell at French club Nantes before joining current club Basel in Switzerland.