(CN) – European soccer teams can charge a development fee when another club signs one of its young players, according to an opinion by a European court adviser.
The opinion derived from the case of Olivier Bernard. He signed a three-year training contract with Olympique Lyonnais. Instead of signing a regular deal with the club after three years, Bernard jumped to Newcastle United of the English Premier League.
Lyonnais sued Bernard and Newcastle for 53,357 euros, which would have been Bernard’s first-year salary with the French club. The trial court awarded Lyonnais half the amount, but the Bernard and Newcastle successfully appealed.
Lyonnais then appealed to the French Court of Cessation, which sought an opinion from Advocate General Eleanor Sharpston on whether the new team’s payment of damages to a player’s original team constitutes a restriction of trade.
Sharpston replied that it is a restriction of trade, but it is an allowable exception to the usual rule.
“Such a rule may nonetheless be justified,” Sharpston advised, “by the need to encourage the recruitment and training of young professional football players, provided that the amount concerned is based on the actual training costs.”