Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa will appear in French court via video as he battles his former side Lille for over €19m in severance pay and damages.
The Argentine coach was manager of the Ligue 1 club in 2017, arriving in May before being sacked in December of the same year for 'serious fault'. Since then, the two parties have been embroiled in a legal battle that is finally set to commence in court today.
Lille sacked Bielsa after he refused to work with sporting advisor Luis Campos on transfers at the club, while also took up a 'purposely defiant' approach to the club and refused to 'apply given instructions'.
Due to the fact he was fired for gross misconduct, he wasn't given any sort of severance pay when losing his job and Bielsa believes that goes against the contract agreed between himself and the club when he became manager.
The reason this has been going on for so long though is because there were actually two contracts signed leading up to his appointment.
According to Bielsa's legal team, via GFFN, the first contract was signed in February 2017 which included all the financial aspects of the deal, including a 'parachute clause' which ensured Bielsa would be paid for the entirety of the term of his contract no matter what.
A second document was signed in July 2017, which didn't include the 'parachute clause' and this is the document that was given to the LFP. This document stated the salary information but also included the names and details of his four members of staff that joined with him. The LFP opted to defer on this case, instead referring it to the Lille tribunal.
According to court documents, Bielsa is suing for €18,872,958 in damages for unjustified and abusive breach of the employment contract, €129,138 in reputation-related damages and €30,000 in other damages.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 65-year-old is unable to attend the case in person and will instead appear via video link and is expected to speak for around 20 minutes in the trial.
It's unlikely that the decision in this case will be final, with the loser almost certain to appeal the case further. A decision isn't expected to be heard for at least three months, unless the two parties can agree a settlement.
The case is the largest of its kind in French football history and would be the second largest severance payout behind Laurent Blanc, who received €22m when he was fired by PSG in 2016.