Football: Troubled Juventus docked 15 points for false accounting

Former sporting director Fabio Paratici, now at Tottenham, could face a suspension of 30 months. PHOTO: REUTERS
Juventus' ex-chairman Andrea Agnelli (centre), seen here at a 2022 game, was banned for two years while former vice-president Pavel Nedved (left) was hit with an eight-month suspension. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN – Juventus’ troubled start to the new year slipped into disaster on Friday after the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) docked the Serie A giants 15 points for using transfers to artificially boost their balance sheet.

The FIGC said in a statement that the points sanction was to be inflicted this season, a huge blow to Juve, whose chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League are now greatly compromised.

Juve drop from third to 10th place on just 22 points, 15 points away from the top four positions in Italy’s top flight. Prosecutors had initially requested a reduction of just nine points.

Juve, who have denied any wrongdoing, plan to appeal to the Sport Guarantee Board, in accordance with the terms of the Sport Justice Code, the club said in a statement late on Friday. 

Missing out on Europe’s top – and richest – club competition would be a further blow to the club’s accounts, which last season were nearly €239 million (S$342.3 million) in the red.

Current sporting director Federico Cherubini was also banned for 16 months, another serious punishment which the club said in a statement they would appeal at the Italian Olympic Committee.

The club’s former leadership were also handed long bans by the FIGC, including two years to former chairman Andrea Agnelli and ex-chief executive Maurizio Arrivabene and 30 months to former sporting director Fabio Paratici, now at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur.

The FIGC also said that it had asked that the bans – which also included eight months for former vice-president and playing icon Pavel Nedved – be extended beyond Italy to the jurisdictions of international governing bodies Uefa and Fifa.

All eight other clubs facing potential FIGC sanctions, including Serie A teams Sampdoria and Empoli, were acquitted, something Juve’s legal team called “a clear injustice”.

They were accused of using capital gains – the positive difference between purchase and sale values net of amortisation and write-downs – from a series of player exchanges in which little or no money passed between clubs.

One widely cited deal was between Juve and Barcelona in 2020 which saw Miralem Pjanic move to Spain and Arthur Melo go the other way.

Arthur was valued at €72 million and Pjanic €60 million, sums both clubs could immediately book on their balance sheets while the cost of purchases can be spread over the length of a player’s contract.

Juve recorded a capital gain of €43 million on Pjanic, the second highest in the club’s history.

The decision to dock Juve points came as the FIGC reopened a trial which had ended in 2022 with Juve and a host of other clubs, including Serie A leaders Napoli, being acquitted.

It follows new evidence from a separate criminal probe into Juve’s finances conducted by prosecutors in Turin.

Juve will know after a preliminary hearing in March if they and the former members of the club’s board will stand criminal trial over alleged false accounting.

Agnelli’s departure ended a 12-year reign which brought a host of trophies and, for a period, re-established Juve as one of Europe’s best teams.

However, Agnelli and the rest of the Juve board stepped down in November under pressure from the criminal investigation, with a new board led by Gianluca Ferrero being appointed earlier this week.

The new board will remain in office until the shareholders’ meeting for the approval of Juve’s accounts as of June 30, 2025.

In December 2022, Uefa said it had opened a formal investigation into whether Juve had misled them and broken rules regarding their finances.

Juventus have been owned since 1923 by Italy’s billionaire Agnelli family, which founded automaker Fiat nearly 125 years ago and manages most of its properties through the holding company Exor NV. It also controls Ferrari NV, CNH Industrial NV and media publisher The Economist Group Ltd, and is the largest single investor in Stellantis NV.

The dramatic move came in the wake of an investigation by Turin-based prosecutors and Italy’s market regulator Consob into allegedly false accounting and market manipulation at the club. AFP, BLOOMBERG

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