By Tony Attwood
If you have ever thought that big football clubs are too big to fail, consider the case of Juventus. The club finished fourth in Serie A last season and made a £220m loss – which is an all-time record loss in Italy.
Last November, “Juventus said they were co-operating with police after an investigation was launched into the club’s transfers.” The entire board has now stepped down. Here’s the current table.
There are suggestions being made of fraud although of course we have no evidence of any wrongdoing and are merely putting together information that is appearing in European, and occasionally in English news media.
The reports say that owner and chairman Andrea Agnelli, vice-president Pavel Nedved and chief financial officer Stefano Cerrato are also under investigation following a raid on Juventus’ offices in Turin and Milan. Agnelli was one of the chief architects of the Super League, in part in order to overthrow the ever-growing power of PSG, and is one of the key players in taking Uefa to the EU’s supreme court.
It is being reported by the BBC that the investigation “is looking into whether senior managers at Juventus gave false information to investors and issued invoices for non-existent transactions.
Juventus released a statement on Saturday saying it was looking into the matter but it “believes to have acted in compliance with the laws and regulations governing the preparation of financial reports, in accordance with accounting principles and in line with the international practice in the football industry and market conditions”.
At the heart of the dispute is what are considered to be “fictitious” capital gains at some 155 million euros between 2018 and 2021, according to some reports in the Italian media.
What seems to have been the tipping point is the recent elimination from the Champions League. The five years of losses were thought to have been recoverable if Super League could go ahead, but this investigation has now seemingly caused that idea to be put on hold.
The council, which includes Andrea Agnelli and its vice-president Pavel Nedved, resigned. The allegations concern “false exchanges” of players: cross-sales with other clubs, without exchanging money, but allowing capital gains to be recorded in the balance sheets.
The magistrates reckon these capital gains at some 155 million euros between 2018 and 2021, according to the media.
It is also being alleged that the club (which is publically listed on the stock exchange) hid from investors various private agreements with players, including that with Cristiano Ronaldo, to settle certain deferred salaries.
From 2011/12 to 2019/20 Juventus won the Italian Serie A eight times running, and of course we have been here before, Luciano Moggi the sporting director appeared to be able to select the referees he wanted for Juventus games.
However, there is no proof that the matches were rigged. No players or referees have been shown to accept brown envelopes. Yet, Moggi was somehow able to select referees for games, influence the selection of other teams, have games postponed or cancelled and also influence the media coverage of football.
And of course when we write about Arsenal and referees it is against this background. It worked in Italy, and when we see some very, very weird statistics about referees in the PL we ask questions. But just as in Italy where no one in the mass media was willing to follow up the questions, so no one is here.
Which of course does not prove in any way that something is wrong, but does raise the question: why are PGMO so secretive, and why will the media not ask questions when they see (as surely they must do) these very strange statistics?
In Italy Moggi was shown to have conversations with the head of national referees’ association, which clearly showed the two preferring some particular referees for Juventus games. This evidence was found via recordings of the conversations between the two, and some of the details are pretty shocking.
So is there any evidence of odd activity in England’s Premier League last season?
Well, yes – not evidence of match fixing, but evidence of a propensity for some referees to favour the home team, and others the away team. Which if you know about it, and you are running a club would lead you to ask for referee X when at home and referee Y when away (data from Who Scored).
If you were running a club that had a home game with Moss in charge (64% home wins) you’d be a lot happier than you would be if you were told Robert Jones (8.3% home wins) was running the show. That’s not to say that either referee does anything untoward, it is just that one happens by pure chance to oversee home wins much more than the other.
I want, yet again to make it absolutely clear that I am not saying PL games are fixed. But assuming they are not, why is PGMO wrapped in so much secrecy, and why do some referees seem to get many more home wins than the rules of chance would lead one to expect?
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