Feeling blue, Conte to sue

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte lifting the FA Cup - his second and final trophy with the Blues - in May. He had been resigned to being dismissed as far back as January and wants to be compensated for the lack of clarity.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte lifting the FA Cup - his second and final trophy with the Blues - in May. He had been resigned to being dismissed as far back as January and wants to be compensated for the lack of clarity.PHOTO: REUTERS

Ex-Chelsea boss livid with late decision on his axing, hence depriving him of potential offers

LONDON • Antonio Conte is taking legal action against Chelsea, including the claim that he deserves to be compensated for loss of future earnings and the damage to his career caused by the English Premier League club's delay in sacking him.

The Italian is angry that the Blues did not confirm his dismissal until last week - 55 days after he led them to victory in the FA Cup final - a delay that his lawyers will argue cost him the opportunity to gain employment elsewhere this summer.

Conte is demanding compensation on top of the £9 million (S$16 million) salary that he is entitled to receive for the final year of his contract.

He had been resigned to leaving Chelsea since January as a result of the collapse in his relationship with the board at Stamford Bridge because of disagreements over the club's transfer policy, but Conte is unhappy with the way his departure was managed.

After not hearing from the club for several weeks at the end of last season, the 48-year-old was summoned back to London a fortnight ago to begin pre-season training, taking charge of the players for four days before being sacked in a brief meeting with Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck last Thursday.

The club waited 24 hours before confirming Conte's departure last Friday and appointed his successor, fellow Italian Maurizio Sarri, the following day.

  • £9M

    The remuneration Antonio Conte is entitled to for the final year of his Chelsea contract.

Conte released a statement through the League Managers Association this week, in which he thanked all his "friends" at Chelsea for their support and wished them success in the future, a move which often signifies that severance terms have been agreed between a club and their outgoing manager, but that is not the case in this instance.

The former Italy coach remains furious at the way he has been treated and, while he used his statement to thank Chelsea's "players and staff", there was neither mention of the board nor of Roman Abramovich, the club's owner.

Conte's legal team will argue that Chelsea have cost their client a year of his career, as all the top management jobs in Europe have been filled.

Real Madrid are understood to have sounded out Conte after Zinedine Zidane left in May, while the Italy job was also available earlier in the summer.

He did not pursue either option, though, and will claim he was committed to Chelsea.

For their part, Chelsea have threatened to withhold the final year of his contract due to alleged irregular conduct and repeated criticism of his employers during his second season in west London.

Sarri, meanwhile, is close to signing Daniele Rugani from Juventus.

Chelsea have been told by the Italian Serie A club to increase their offer for the central defender to about £40 million.

His arrival would make it more likely that Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma and Matt Miazga will leave.

AC Milan have expressed an interest in Spain striker Alvaro Morata, and could offer Gianluigi Donnarumma, their 19-year-old Italian goalkeeper, as part of a deal.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2018, with the headline 'Feeling blue, Conte to sue'. Print Edition | Subscribe