Linz title challenge derailed by coronavirus points penalty and an injury time defeat

June 4 – It is going from bad to worse for Austria’s LASK Linz who are seeing what would be only their second ever domestic league title slip away.

Linz lost to a stoppage-time defeat to Hartberg  yesterday, just days after being deducted six points for breaking coronavirus rules by returning to full training without permission.

The club claims it was the victim of industrial espionage and are appealing after being filmed and then sanctioned  for staging full-team practice sessions during a period when the coronavirus rules restricted them to training in small groups.

They were three points clear of Salzburg, chasing a seventh straight Austrian title, at the time but are now in third place with their dream of winning the title likely to be shattered.

Linz have also been fined €75,000 for breaking “the basic idea of fair play.”

The case came to light after several rival clubs said they had received videos of the practice sessions.

The club apologised at the time and said they felt it was safe to hold team sessions as the entire squad had repeatedly tested negative for the virus.

They were handed a 12-point deduction but all teams’ points tallies are halved at the end of the regular season when they are split into two groups of six, with the top six playing for the title and the remainder to avoid relegation.

As a result, Linz’s deduction was reduced to six.

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