Juventus fined but avoid further points deduction in plea bargain

Juventus reach a settlement with Italy’s football authorities over payments to players and the club’s accounts.

The agreement leaves Juventus seventh in Serie A [File: Massimo Pinca/Reuters]

Juventus have escaped an additional Serie A points deduction for lying about players foregoing wages during the COVID-19 pandemic after a plea bargain was approved by the Italian Football Federation tribunal.

Italy’s most successful club agreed to pay a fine of more than 700,000 euros ($751,000) on Tuesday, bringing to an end a series of cases in Italian sporting courts.

Juventus said they had decided to accept the settlement “in the best interest” of the club itself, their shareholders and stakeholders.

“The settlement of all open FIGC sports proceedings allows the company to achieve a definite result,” Juventus said in a statement, adding this would remove “tension and instability” and allow the club to focus on planning for next season.

Last week, they were given a 10-point deduction in Serie A after a revision of their initial 15-point penalty imposed on the club for illicit transfer activity.

Juventus have agreed not to appeal the deduction as part of Tuesday’s deal.

The plea bargain related to the Turin club allegedly lying about players giving up salary payments during the pandemic in 2020, while privately assuring those players they would only miss out on a portion of what was publicly announced.

In doing so, it was able to artificially reduce losses in the club’s annual balance sheets during the pandemic, when matches were cancelled and revenue plummeted.

The disciplinary tribunal of the Italian federation (FIGC) said in a published decision that it had fined the troubled club 718,240 euros ($770,284), while seven of its management figures were ordered to pay fines.

Shares in Juventus rose as much as 9.9 percent on the Milan Stock Exchange after the settlement was announced and were up 5.1 percent by 13:50 GMT.

With one match left to play, the agreement leaves Juventus seventh in the Serie A table, allowing them to qualify for next season’s Europa Conference League and, they could reach as high as fifth, allowing them to hope for a spot in the more lucrative Europa League.

However, the club might have to forfeit a place in European competitions because of sanctions that could be imposed in a separate probe by European football’s ruling body UEFA, newspapers have reported.

Excluded from the plea agreement, however, is former chairman Andrea Agnelli, who jointly requested along with prosecutors that his hearing be postponed to June 15, given what the tribunal called “advanced talks” on potential sanctions.

As part of this case, Agnelli, 11 other people and the club itself risk standing trial.

Juve faces separate criminal proceedings in the affair, with 12 current and former key club figures including former chairman Agnelli potentially facing trial.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies