West News Wire: Following an appeal session at the Italian football association, Juventus, the most illustrious football team in Italy, was assessed a severe 15-point penalty for dishonest accounting.
Juventus was charged with exploiting capital gains, which are defined as the positive difference between the buy and sale prices after amortization and write-downs, in a string of player trades where little to no money changed hands between teams.
The sports court first absolved the club in April of last year despite their denials of misconduct. But once the federation obtained documents from the Turin prosecutors from a different criminal investigation into Juventus’s finances, an appeal was launched.
Juventus, a team that has won the Italian championship 36 times in total, was third in Serie A with 37 points after 20 games, 10 points adrift of league-leading Napoli.
The penalty announced on Friday pushes them down into 10th, and could rule out the club from playing in Europe next season.
One widely cited deal between Juventus and Barcelona saw Miralem Pjanic move to Catalonia and Arthur Melo go the other way in 2020.
Turin prosecutors have also apparently discovered more alleged secret payments to former player Cristiano Ronaldo that were not reported by the club.
The court also imposed bans from holding office in Italian football on 11 past and present Juventus directors.
These included 24 months for Andrea Agnelli, who was replaced by Gianluca Ferrero this week as chairman after formally stepping down in November, and 30 months for former sports director, Fabio Paratici, now managing director of football at England’s Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
Juventus 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.
The club is controlled by the Agnelli family’s Exor holding company and its shares are listed on the Milan stock exchange.
Juventus has denied wrongdoing and said its accounting was in line with industry standards.
“We consider this to be a blatant injustice also for millions of fans, which we trust will soon be remedied in the next court,” lawyers for the club said in a statement.
They said they would appeal to the country’s Sport Guarantee Board once the reasons for the ruling were published.
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 euros ($260m) in the red.
The court confirmed the acquittal of eight other football clubs, including Serie A’s Sampdoria and Empoli, and their directors, for whom prosecutors had also wanted to reopen the case.
The penalty comes 17 years after the “Calciopoli” refereeing scandal that saw Juventus demoted to Serie B and stripped of two Serie A titles.