Chelsea transfer ban lifted as CAS clear Blues of wrongdoing over Gael Kakuta signing

04 February 2010 09:34
Centre of the storm: Kakuta

Chelsea have escaped their transfer ban by reaching an out-ofcourt agreement to pay Lens a fee, thought to be about £1million, for Gael Kakuta.

The settlement represents compensation for the French club for training and developing Kakuta before he crossed the English Channel to Stamford Bridge at the age of 16.

In return, Lens have agreed to drop the complaint which prompted FIFA's dispute and resolution chamber to ban Chelsea from two consecutive transfer windows.

Chelsea had appealed against the punishment and the case was due to be heard next month by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) until the lawyers struck a deal yesterday.

'We are pleased to have come to an amicable resolution of the matter and that it has been ratified by CAS and recognised by FIFA,' said Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck.

Lens were furious when they lost their highly rated teenager to Chelsea in the summer of 2007. The Premier League club claimed Kakuta had reached a contractual window and was free to move, but Lens insisted they had a precontract agreement signed by the player before his 16th birthday.

They lodged an official complaint with FIFA, with president Gervais Martel accusing Chelsea of offering 'a lot of money' to Kakuta's family to induce him to leave and demanding £4.25m in compensation.

Lens were awarded only £115,000, however, as FIFA instead chose to make an example of the wealthy Premier League club by imposing a two-window transfer ban.

The dispute and resolution chamber also fined Kakuta £680,000 for breaking the precontract deal and banned him from football for four months.

When the punishment was delivered last September, Chelsea sent their legal team into action. They appealed to CAS and had the transfer ban frozen in time for them to trade during the January window, although, as confidence grew that they were winning the battle, they did not actually sign anyone when the market opened for business.

Lens are in serious financial trouble. They are desperately trying to find £10m before the end of the season to pay off debts and are now taking Portsmouth to FIFA to claim millions in unpaid transfer fees for Nadir Belhadj and Aruna Dindane. In the end, a financial agreement was of far greater value to them than any point of principle.

As part of yesterday's settlement, Lens confirmed that their pre-contract agreement with Kakuta was 'not valid' and that, therefore, the teenager could not be accused of breaking it and Chelsea were 'not liable for breach of contract'.

'As a consequence, in light of these new circumstances, the sanctions imposed upon Chelsea FC and the player by the FIFA dispute resolution chamber had to be lifted,' confirmed a CAS statement, circulated at 5.03pm UK time, three minutes after the CAS offices closed for business.

Kakuta, now 18, is free to continue his career and Chelsea insist the episode had brought them closer to Lens. 'We are pleased Chelsea have been cleared of any wrongdoing and that the matter is now closed,' said the club's chief executive, Ron Gourlay.

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Source: Daily_Mail

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