Former Juventus President Andrea Agnelli always liked the saying of businessman Jack Welch – one of the “giant” of the American industry: “Change before you have to.”
That is also the motto during the 12 years that Agnelli led the football club that his family owned. This also explains why Juventus many times broke up the pillars at the same time (to rebuild the team); why bold old lady used a new, more modern logo from 2017 (to attract generation Z); why they welcome Netflix and Amazon to make movies about the club; or even, the fact that they wanted to co-found the Super League project.
However, earlier this week, it wasn’t just “things outside the body”: Both Agnelli and the entire club board resigned. It was the end of an entire era.
Agnelli’s last move
Athletic believes Agnelli has contributed greatly to bringing Juventus back to its heyday. He took over as President from his predecessor Giovanni Cobolli Gigli, when Juve only finished 7th in Serie A in 2009/10 and could barely attract top players. Since then, he has inaugurated a new stadium with a “game changer” role, with Juve winning nine Scudettos in a row, scoring a domestic double four times and reaching the Champions League Final twice.
For a long time, until 2018, Juventus was a model club. And it is because of that glorious memory that is not far away, that the Italian press did not hesitate to compare the simultaneous resignations at Juve with the two words “earthquake”.
That’s right, Juve hasn’t experienced a day as shocking as this since Calciopoli 2006 – a scandal over power and influence that they are still in the process of appeal and compensation.
What happened behind the velvet curtain?
All eyes are on an investigation into Juventus’ financial problems.
This time last year, the Turin team conducted the second capital increase in three years. With both of these times, the amount of newly issued shares has a total value of 700 million euros, aimed at stabilizing the financial situation of the club in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the prospectus regarding the refinancing, Juventus is obligated, as a company listed on the Euronext stock exchange in Milan, to disclose that the club has been subject to regulatory scrutiny. domestic financial management CONSOB on “revenue from registration rights of players”.
COVISOC, another watchdog responsible for inspecting the football industry in Italy, has forwarded a report to the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) highlighting 62 transfers from two years ago. The FIGC Disciplinary Commissioner was invited to take a closer look at whether the fees involved were inflated.
42 of those transfers involved Juventus, the most prominent being the swap of Miralem Pjanic for Barcelona’s Arthur Melo. While 36/62 transfers, a different and surprisingly high rate, came into the spotlight because of the involvement of young players.
Remember in April, the FIGC reminded Juventus and 10 other clubs for regularly using Transfermarkt, a widely used but unofficial website, as a standard for valuing players.
Much more serious, however, is a parallel investigation, nicknamed Prisma, which has just been launched by the prosecutor’s office of the Turin court.
Why is Prisma important?
Prisma brought charges to Juve, of accounting errors, false financial statements and market manipulation.
The prosecutor’s office in Turin received a search and seizure warrant. They authorized the Guardia di Finanza – the police force responsible for investigating financial affairs in Italy – to raid the club’s training grounds in Continassa and Vinovo, as well as their offices in Turin and Milano.
A total of 16 people have been investigated, including Agnelli, Vice President Pavel Nedved and Former Juventus director Fabio Paratici, who left 18 months ago and is now Tottenham’s CEO. They even requested a warrant for Agnelli’s house arrest, but were refused by his superiors.
Last month, Juve released a statement denying any alleged conduct, after prosecutors completed their investigation.
Attention focused on Juve’s financial statements for the years 2019, 2020 and 2021. After looking through the books, investigators alleged that there were significant discrepancies.
Also of concern are the agreements made with the club’s players during the pandemic. A statement in March 2020 said that Juventus saved about 90 million euros after their players agreed to take a pay cut in the months of March, April, May and June of that year. But investigators allege that Juve players only took a one-month pay cut and that financial markets were misled by the club’s claims.
The times Juve maneuvers in wages, loyalty bonuses and how they are accounted for, are also important issues in the Prisma investigation.
The wiretaps were included in the initial search and seizure warrant, including a conversation between sporting director Federico Cherubini and Cesare Gabasio, a former member of the club’s legal team about Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Real Madrid. in 2018 for around 100 million euros. “People will jump in our throats if a secret document gets out,” they are said to have said.
Juventus has always insisted that it operates in compliance with applicable laws and accounting principles, and in accordance with international football practices and market conditions.
On November 28, Juve stated: “Due to the centrality and relevance of the pending legal and technical/accounting issues, the management considers the Juventus solution to form a new leadership board. to solve these problems is in the best interest of the club.”
What will happen next?
If Prisma proves any violation, the FIGC will be able to reopen the case it wanted to investigate, or start a separate investigation based on Prisma’s report.
The “case they wanted to investigate” here, is the number of 62 transfers that can be overvalued, and the 11 clubs that use Transfermakt’s price as the “standard” mentioned at the beginning of the article. In May, the FIGC’s federal prosecutor’s office appealed against the acquittal of the 11 clubs involved, but the appeal was denied.
But if Giuseppe Chine, the federal prosecutor of the FIGC, believes there is reason to reconsider the case based on the evidence gathered by the prosecutor’s office in Turin, then Juventus risks a fine or penalty points under article 31 of the Law on Fair Sports Rules of this country. The Prisma investigation itself is now over, but criminal proceedings are still pending.
On the club’s side, CEO Maurizio Arrivabene (former director of the Ferrari Formula One team) is staying on to manage the transition.
Juventus also announced Mr. Maurizio Scanavino as the new General Director. Scanavio previously led GEDI, the media and publishing group behind leading Italian newspapers such as La Repubblica and La Stampa, as well as numerous international magazines including The Economist. And GEDI is one of the companies in the portfolio of EXOR – a company that is headed by John Elkann, Andrea Agnelli’s cousin.
On Tuesday, EXOR suggested that Gianluca Ferrero could be chosen to replace Agnelli as Juventus President. Turin-born Ferrero is the manager of Lavazza, a globally renowned coffee maker founded in this city. Most importantly, he is an avid Juventus fan.
“As an advisor, auditor, board member and trustee of a number of companies, Mr. Ferrero possesses the remarkable experience and necessary commanding capacity. In particular, he has a real passion for the club. It is these things that make Ferrero the most qualified person to take on this role,” EXOR announced.
Will there be Calciopoli 2.0?
Absolutely not, because this is a completely different case. This is the financial story of how a club listed their financial statements on the stock exchange. This is also the story of player transfers and their payroll.
And this is also a story about how the club reacts to financial pressure, basically, in the context of the pandemic.
How will Juventus be affected on the pitch?
Coach Massimiliano Allegri and his players still have the rest of the World Cup break to calm down, before the season resumes in early January.
In fact, coaching or playing for Juventus has always come with great pressure and supervision, so they are relatively used to it. Some of the players have even been interviewed by Prisma prosecutors, from the very beginning of the investigation and this has been going on for a year.
The main problems, which are said to belong only to the club managers, especially the old leadership. But again and again, it was Allegri who understood better than anyone how important the superstructure fluctuations were. The strategist was sacked by AC Milan in 2014, at a time when his most supportive leader – Adriano Galliani was being challenged by his co-executive, the daughter of President Silvio Berlusconi, Ms. Barbara.
After a total of 12 years (over two terms) Allegri has been with the club, he can also be completely replaced once the new Chairman and Board of Directors appear.
For now, it remains to be seen what vision the “potential president” Ferrero has for Juve, amid calls on social media to bring the legendary Alessandro del Piero back to the club as director. operating.
Hoai Thuan | 11:15 December 1, 2022