Juventus Scandal Rumbles On As Accounts Stay Deep In The Red

Juventus’ troubles will continue on Tuesday when the shareholders of Italy’s biggest football club meet to approve the latest disastrous set of accounts following last month’s mass boardroom resignations. Juve’s entire board quit as an investigation by prosecutors in Turin into allegations of false accounting and irregularities in the transfer and loans of players led to 15 people and the club being charged with a variety of offences. On Tuesday revised losses for the 2021/22 season of 239.3 million euros (255 million dollars) will be ratified, the fifth straight set of annual accounts in the red.

Juve are listed on the Italian stock market and in September announced record losses of 254 million euros, a figure revised downwards after losses for 2020/21 were revised upwards from 209 million euros to 226 million euros.

Those accounts were modified following findings of stock exchange regulator CONSOB as well as auditors and prosecutors.

Tuesday’s meeting had been scheduled for November 23 but was pushed back just over a week before the board announced its decision to step down.

Chairman Andrea Agnelli was among those to resign, bringing to an end a 12-year reign which brought a host of trophies and for a period re-established Juventus as one of Europe’s best teams.

However, Juve’s run of nine straight league titles came to an end in 2021 and their performances on the continent plummeted after they spent more than 100 million euros to sign Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid three years before.

Ronaldo‘s arrival coincided with an increase in salary costs which combined with the COVID-19 pandemic led to two capital increases worth 700 million euros from parent company Exor, controlled by the powerful Agnelli family.

In documents seen by AFP, Juve are accused of artificially inflating transfer values and also lying to the stock market when announcing at the height of the pandemic that players would help the club save 90 million euros by giving up their salaries for March, April, May and June 2020.

Prosecutors say the club privately assured players they would only have to give up one month’s salary, saving just 22 million euros.

Trial date looms

Shareholders are set to meet again on January 18 to appoint the new board which is to be led by Gianluca Ferrero, a Turin-born former head of coffee brand Lavazza who is trusted by Exor chairman John Elkann — Andrea Agnelli’s cousin.

A preliminary court hearing next month will decide whether those charged by prosecutors will be defendants in a trial which would provide a troublesome backdrop to the second half of what has already been a complicated season for Juventus.

The Turin giants were knocked out of the Champions League after finishing the group stage with just three points and trail Serie A leaders Napoli by 10 points.

Coach Massimiliano Allegri had been under fire following an appalling start to the campaign but a run of six league wins in the month leading up to the World Cup dragged Juve to third in Serie A.

The chaos elsewhere hasn’t had a direct impact on Allegri, who is still in place alongside sporting director Federico Cherubini.

For Agnelli however the season is becoming something of a nightmare, with Juve’s finances also under investigation by UEFA.

European football’s governing body also appear to be winning the battle against the remaining proponents of the aborted Super League, which included Agnelli.

The European Court of Justice’s top legal advisor said earlier this month that UEFA and global body FIFA had acted within the law when they threatened to expel clubs or players who joined the closed breakaway league.

As Juventus chairman Agnelli and his counterparts at Barcelona and reigning European champions Real Madrid were hanging on to the Super League idea despite its collapse just 48 hours after its announcement in 2021 following fan outrage.

The Super League’s holding company’s claim that UEFA abused its position in the market to squeeze out fair competition was rejected by Advocate General Athanasios Rantos. A definitive ruling is expected to be made official by the ECJ early next year.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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