New Juventus board faces legal fight in first week

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A new board at Italian soccer club Juventus will be appointed this week and plunged straight into its accounting scandal, with a hearing on Friday before sporting authorities on its transfer dealings.

Gianluca Ferrero, an accountant, will succeed Andrea Agnelli after the high profile chairman and fellow board members resigned at the end of November as Turin prosecutors and Italy’s market watchdog examined the club’s finances.

Ferrero is the son of Cesare Ferrero, long-time accountant to late Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli. He is close to Agnelli’s grandson John Elkann, now the senior business figure in the family that has owned Juventus for a century.

Exor, the Agnelli family holding company which controls Juventus, has proposed Maurizio Scanavino, the head of its GEDI media group as the new Juventus CEO. The appointments are set to be confirmed at a shareholder meeting in Turin on Wednesday.

Accountants and lawyers will form the core of the new slimmed-down, five-member board proposed by Exor, with a specific aim of shielding the most successful club in Italian soccer history from its legal troubles.

Prosecutors in Turin have requested Agnelli, 11 other people and the club itself stand trial over allegations of false accounting. Juventus has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

SPORTING SANCTIONS?

While the criminal case will likely take years to play out, Juventus will this week face the possible cancellation of a ruling by a soccer court that had previously cleared it, other clubs and their executives in a case involving capital gains on transfer dealings.

A new hearing of soccer’s federal appeals court on the case is scheduled for Friday.

Enrico Lubrano, a sport law professor at LUISS university in Rome told Reuters that Juventus faced only a fine for a “basic administrative offence” if found guilty at this stage.

However, soccer authorities are now looking at all documents collected by general prosecutors in Turin.

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Lubrano said this raised the possibility of new sporting cases against the club, with the risk of heavier sanctions, including possible point deductions or even relegation if the club was deemed to have breached league registration rules.

“This week’s ruling will not be a big deal for Juventus. The real blow to it could come later on, if soccer prosecutors decide to start a new case with more serious allegations,” he said.

Italy’s football association FIGC has already opened an investigation into allegations Juventus paid salaries to its players that were different from those it publicly reported.

Juventus sit third in the Serie A table after suffering a humbling 5-1 defeat to league leaders Napoli on Friday.

The new board will also have to restore the club’s financial fortunes, hit by rising costs linked to players’ salaries and the coronavirus pandemic.

Juventus booked a 238 million euro ($257.33 million) loss in the fiscal year ended in June 2022, while investors have been forced to inject a total of 700 million euros between 2019 and 2021. ($1 = 0.9249 euros)


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