Austrian Bundesliga leaders LASK docked 12 points after training scandal

Austrian Bundesliga leaders LASK have been docked 12 points for breaking coronavirus-related safety rules in practice sessions.

LASK admitted to staging full contact training sessions ahead of the proposed top-flight restart on June 2, despite the fact all clubs had only been cleared to get back on the pitch in small groups.

The remaining 11 Bundesliga clubs voiced their collective disapproval earlier this month, raising concerns over the possibility of the current league leaders benefiting from an unfair advantage in terms of match fitness.

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But, before the claims from the other clubs had even been released, LASK issued a statement of their own, claiming they had been victims of "industrial espionage".

LASK issued a public apology for breaching social distancing protocols, but have ultimately been unable to avoid a severe reprimand.

Football authorities in Austria have confirmed on Thursday that the club have been hit with a points deduction and a fine of €75,000.

LASK have been docked 12 points, but, with the league split into two sections, there will be six points deducted from the total for each section.

The club have released an official statement confirming their plans to appeal the decision, which reads: "We received the verdict of the Senate 1 orally this afternoon. After evaluating the present decision, we agreed to call the protest committee of the Bundesliga as a second-instance body.

"Specifically, we consider the sanctions expressed in the judgment to be a deduction of 12 points before the division of points and the € 75,000 penalty payment is disproportionate.

"We have therefore exercised our right and immediately protested the excessive judgment."

LASK have dropped to second in the Bundesliga standings due to the ruling, three points behind reigning champions and arch-rivals Red Bull Salzburg.

Valerien Ismael's side will, however, have the opportunity to close the gap when the campaign restarts, as they seek to maintain the strong form they showed at the start of the year.

There are still 10 matches of the season left to play, and LASK will likely be able to focus all their efforts on domestic duties after being humbled by Manchester United in the Europa League.

The Austrian outfit were beaten 5-0 in the first leg of their last 16 tie at home to the Red Devils just before the season was postponed in March, with it not yet known when or if the competition will be completed over the summer.