Agnelli and Juve board resign over criminal probe in to alleged hidden player payments

November 29 – In a bombshell move, the entire board of Juventus, including chairman Andrea Agnelli, has resigned en masse, plunging one of the world’s most famous clubs into crisis.

The stunning development follows a preliminary investigation by the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office into fraudulent accounting around alleged hidden payments to players.

Prosecutors have been investigating since last year whether Juventus, which is listed on the Milan stock exchange, cashed in on illegal commissions from transfer and loans of players. Agnelli, vice president Pavel Nedved and CEO Maurizio Arrivabene are among 15 people who could potentially face trial.

Last month Juventus stressed it had already been cleared of wrongdoing on two occasions for the same case and that there is “nothing new”.

But after a meeting on Monday the board said in a statement that it “considered (it) to be in the best social interest to recommend that Juventus equip itself with a new Board of Directors to address these issues… given the relevance of the pending legal and technical/accounting matters.”

Arrivabene was asked to stay on for an interim period while a new board could be brought together for the Turin giants, with a shareholders meeting scheduled for January 18.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Juventus said 23 players had agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. It claimed the players gave up only one month’s salary.

Whatever is discovered by prosecutors will be passed on to the Italian FA (FIGC), which has powers to sanction clubs with a range of punishments from fines to being kicked out of the league.

The club would “continue to cooperate with supervisory and sector authorities”, it said.

Agnelli is one of the most high-profile figures in European football and a former head of the European Club Association.

In a letter to Juventus staff seen by Reuters, he described the company situation as “delicate”.

“When the team is not cohesive it becomes vulnerable and that can be fatal,” he wrote.

“This is when you need to keep calm and contain damages: the company is going through a delicate phase and we’re no longer cohesive. Better to quit all together, giving the chance to a new team to turn the game around.”

The mass resignation in the midst of the ongoing inquiry into Juve’s finances caught everyone off guard.

Matters were bad enough on the field after Juve suffered the humiliation of being knocked out of this season’s Champions League at the group stage, losing precious revenue.

Now the “Old Lady” is on her knees off the field too in the latest scandal to hit the 34-time Italian league winners and two-time European champions.

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