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Lens delighted after Chelsea are punished

Lens are celebrating after hearing Chelsea have been banned from signing players until January 2011.

The French outfit were furious that the Premier League club had induced winger Gael Kakuta to break his contract with the club in 2007, and took their case to FIFA.

World football's governing body passed down their verdict on Wednesday, which Chelsea have vowed to strenuously fight the suspension.

But Lens president Gervais Martel insists the decision is fair and just.

"We expected this kind of decision,'' said Martel. "The player was under contract with us, and they came and stole him away from us. Chelsea didn't follow the rules. They contacted the player when he wasn't even 16 yet, and while he had been contracted to our training group from the age of eight.

"The financial sanction isn't over the top given the nature of the infringement, but it's really quite significant when it comes to not being able to recruit players.

"It's an important message given that protecting up and coming youth players who are contracted to clubs is an issue being followed closely by (Uefa president) Michel Platini.''

The Blues were astonished by the ruling, both in terms of the ban and the financial punishment, and in a brief statement said they would be launching "the strongest appeal possible''.

That appeal will likely go through the Court of Arbitration for Sport and Matthieu Reeb, secretary general of the body, has stated that a final decision could be made prior to the opening of the winter transfer window.

"If the appeal is fielded within the deadline of the next 21 days we should have the appeal in the next two or three weeks,'' said Reeb. "Then the CAS can proceed in an extradited manner depending on whether the party has agreed to extradite the procedure.

"But at the least we will probably issue a decision at the end of November or mid-December.

"We will have a panel of three arbitrators, so three judges. One will be selected by Chelsea, the other by FC Lens and FIFA and the chairman will be CAS.''

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