Football giant facing financial disaster

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The Independent Online

The match-fixing allegations shaking Italian football giant Juventus could lead to a wave of claims for compensation and financial meltdown for the club.

Luciano Moggi, Juventus's general manager, and Antonio Giraudo, the former chief executive, are under investigation for possible match-fixing and accounting fraud. Leaked transcriptions of Mr Moggi's phone conversations with Mr Giraudo and others have shocked Italians.

The potential financial consequences of the scandal are significant. Juventus admits that demotion from Serie A to Serie B would lead to the loss of its two lucrative television deals, with Mediaset and BSkyB, worth a combined €124m (£84m) last year. That represents half the club's total revenues of €229m.

But according to Mattia Grassani, one of Italy's leading sports lawyers, Juventus faces expulsion from Serie A to Serie C. Speaking to Italian newspaper Il Giornale, he said: "In the event of repeated unlawful actions ... there are various financial penalties and demotion to Serie C. Juventus really does face this."

The lawyer also argued that investors, media companies, the players and fans could all have claims for compensation against Juventus, if its directors are found to have failed in their duty.

The media companies and the players would be able to declare their contracts null and void, meaning Juventus would lose its major assets and source of income without compensation.

The loss of its star players would be highly damaging to any chance of recovery on the field. It is understood that David Trezeguet, Patrick Vieira and Gigi Buffon have already indicated their unwillingness to play in Serie B.

Juventus is the world's fourth-richest club and one of Italy's most popular teams. Outraged fans are reported to be considering "striking" by not renewing their season tickets.

Juventus's shares have lost nearly half their value in the past fortnight.