FIFA has confirmed that Fulham have missed the deadline for paying the final £2.5m chunk of Steve Marlet's £11.5m transfer from Lyon, leaving the Cottagers facing a possible transfer embargo next month.
The game's world governing body confirmed Fulham did not pay the installment, originally due on 14 December, by yesterday's extended deadline.
"I understand from our legal department that the payment has not been made, nor have we received a plausible explanation why it hasn't been made," a Fifa spokesman, Andreas Herren, said. "Correspondence has been received from Fulham which doesn't say a great deal. The case may now be forwarded to the Players' Status Committee, which deals with transfer disputes, who meet on 19 February. The issue of a transfer embargo is a matter for the committee to decide."
Marlet, 28, moved from Lyon in August, 2001 on a five-year contract with built-in pay rises worth up to £40,000-a-week by 2006. Fulham are withholding payment because they are unhappy with the role Barcelona-based agents Sebastien and Pascal Boisseau played in negotiations. The Cottagers have also refused to release £500,000 owed to the brothers and plan legal action to recover £500,000 already paid to them.
"All aspects of the transfer will be discussed – so it is in the interests of the club to provide a plausible explanation," Herren added. "The committee will decide whether to impose an embargo and which transfers it would cover. If they decide to impose one, they will notify the Football Association, who will have to make sure the club follow their instructions."