Linz could face points deduction after breaking training rules

Linz were filmed breaking rules on training in small groups

Linz were filmed breaking rules on training in small groups

AUSTRIAN league leaders LASK Linz could face a points deduction after being accused of breaking rules about training in small groups during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eleven of the 12 Austrian Bundesliga teams said they had been presented with “clear video material” showing Linz ignoring the guidelines issued by the Austrian government.

The team, who are three points clear of champions RB Salzburg at the top of the Austrian Bundesliga, now face disciplinary action, which could include a points deduction.

The Premier League has been clear that no team should gain a competitive advantage from coronavirus - which is why clubs have been told they may be asked to share performance data from training, as TGG exclusively revealed last week.

There have been concerns from some teams in England that their rivals are breaking the rules, which are currently for individual training and will move onto training in small groups from Tuesday.

Austrian teams were allowed to begin training in small groups of six from April 20th, with full training sessions permitted from last Friday.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the other 11 Austrian Bundesliga clubs said: “These videos clearly show that the league leaders have disregarded the guidelines for small group training set by the ministry [of sports]."

They added that they “dissociated from this behaviour and will continue to adhere strictly to the government’s guidelines [because] the responsible and safe continuation of the Bundesliga competition remains a top priority.”

Austria Vienna made their own statement: “We are really very disappointed, because in the past few weeks we have done everything we could for the resumption of training and matches under an extreme commitment for the Bundesliga and for all the clubs. Everything is then torpedoed with such fatal actions.”

Defending champions RB Salzburg said they were “shocked and stunned” by Linz’s approach, adding “for many months we have been working so hard together - obviously, not all clubs and individuals are aware of this great responsibility.”

Linz Managing Director Andreas Protil countered by accusing whoever had filmed the training sessions of "industrial espionage". He said two men had broken into the club’s training ground overnight and installed video surveillance cameras, adding that the incident had been reported to the police.

“We are shocked that there are obviously third parties who are willing to break into our club premises with criminal energy in order to carry out industrial espionage,” he said. “The perpetrators were filmed and are now being investigated.”

Club vice-president Juergen Werner said: “We felt safe and certainly did not endanger anyone. It was just a stupid thing. We could have waited a few more days.

“We have taken the strictest measures possible. The players arrived alone, did their own laundry. We packed them food and put it out for them.”

Coach Valerien Ismael added: “It is about four training sessions in which we wanted to gain an impulse. That was a mistake but the basic idea was not to gain an advantage. We stand up for our mistake and apologise for it.”

The Austrian Bundesliga will resume on June 2nd.

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