Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Rennes face own poaching allegations

The French club who want a transfer window ban imposed on Manchester City for signing an under-16 international have been found guilty of the same poaching offence they are accusing the Premier League club of committing.

Rennes, who have reported City's conduct in the signing of Jeremy Helan, to Fifa, face a fine from France's Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) after taking Tongo Hamed Doumbia from Chateauroux, a Ligue 2 side, on a three-year deal in June.

Chateauroux's administrative director Bruno Allegre yesterday confirmed the details of the Doumbia case and accused Rennes of hypocrisy in their pursuit of action against City.

“There are certain people who hand out lessons in morality to others but do not practice what they preach,” Allegre said.

“Rennes like to think of themselves as an exemplary club, a moral leader which lectures others but, at the moment, they are not capable of sticking to those lessons. Either that, or they are completely incapable of training young players because they seem to have to take them from other clubs.”

Doumbia was on a contract amateur at Chateauroux, according to the Ligue 2 side. “The player was obliged to sign with us,” Allegre said.

The case went to the LFP who ruled Rennes are now liable to pay an undisclosed sum in compensation to Chateauroux. The revelation that Rennes have ignored a contract which is similar to the centrepiece of their own case against City may strengthen the Premier League club's position — though it remains unclear how comparable the Helan and Doumbia contracts are.

Sports lawyer Adam Morallee of Mishcon de Raya partners said yesterday that for the conduct of either Rennes or Lens to assist British clubs there had to be a blatant legal contradiction between their complaints and their own actions. “If [a French club] had a lawsuit in which the specific contract in question was an issue and went into the witness box and said 'this is not a real contract', but then said the opposite thing there could be some significance,” Morallee said. “If they are actually saying 'this is not a contract' then that would undermine their case.”

Doumbia, who was born in Vernon, west of Paris and played for a number of small clubs in the capital from the age of 13, had been with Chateauroux for two years and though he had played for them on only one occasion, he had attracted the attention of both Rennes and Lyons, who moved in this summer. Though he was 19 when he moved, three years older than Helan, the Fifa regulations in both Rennes' case against City and Lens' against Chelsea with regard to Gael Kakuta, relate to players of all ages.

Chelsea will discover within the next six days Fifa's reasons for banning them from two transfer windows for allegedly inducing Kakuta to leave for Stamford Bridge. If they appeal, their case is expected to be built around the facts leading up to the move, with some lawyers now of the view that the club have their work cut out persuading Fifa to reduce and reverse the ban which leaves them unable to buy until January 2011.

Chelsea are expected to seek to demonstrate that Kakuta's pre-contract, known as a contract aspirant, was not binding in law and that they did not induce a breach of it.

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