In the world of soccer, fandoms can be rather categorized. If you follow a Premier League team, for example, you won’t necessarily pay attention to Italy’s Serie A. You might see some highlights ahead of a Champions League matchday or put in a quick cram session ahead of the transfer window, but, by and large, knowledge doesn’t translate across the continent. The latest news out of Juventus, however, should be on everyone’s radar.
On Monday, November 28, the Turin club’s entire board of directors resigned. While that might be easy to overlook, especially if Italian football isn’t your specialty, stick with me here. We’re going to break things down — at least as much as we’re able to right now — and highlight why this story could send shockwaves across Europe.
What’s going on with Juventus and their board of directors?
As anyone who’s familiar with Watford can tell you, Italian soccer has a specific relationship with firing managers. What’s going on in Turin, however, goes beyond a simple change in philosophy.
As documented in an AP report published on ESPN, Juventus’ board of directors, president, and vice president all resigned on Monday.
“The stunning move follows a preliminary investigation by the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office into fraudulent accounting and alleged hidden payments to players,” the write-up explains. “At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Juventus said 23 players agreed to reduce their salary for four months to help the club through the crisis. But its claimed the players gave up only one month’s salary.
“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. The case is also exploring if investors were misled with invoices being issued for non-existent transactions to demonstrate income that in turn could be deemed false accounting.”
At this point, that’s what we know. As you might expect, though, rumors have been swirling about a potential punishment.
Following the Calciopoli scandal, Juventus was relegated to Serie B. While the club immediately won promotion back to the top division, they did lose several key players to rivals. There isn’t an official indication that a similar punishment is on the table, but Tancredi Palmeri tweeted that he had heard talk of this situation being “same dangerous as in 2006.”
At this point, though, we’ll have to see what happens as the process unfolds.
If Juventus faces any form of severe punishment, they could lose some talent
Again, we don’t know what the future holds for Juventus. The club could receive little more than a slap on the wrist, be relegated out of the top flight, or suffer some punishment that sits somewhere in-between the two extremes. The potential implications of what happens, however, are what make this story so important, even with that dose of uncertainty.
Let’s pretend that Juve’s ability to do business as usual is compromised, whether that’s through a hefty fine, transfer ban, relegation, or anything else.
First, that would potentially create an exodus of players. While things would be more dramatic if the club steps down into Serie B, one of the lesser punishments could compromise wages and the ability to compete for titles. Both of those factors could lead to roster turnover.
Take Dusan Vlahovic as an example. The Serbian striker secured a big-money move to Juventus last January. If the Old Lady steps down into the second tier, would playing for the club still hold the same appeal? Or would he push for a move where he can continue to shine on the big stage?
Alternatively, the club could be motivated to sell in an attempt to balance the books. If FB-Ref’s wage data is to be believed, Vlahovic is earning roughly $260,000 per week. For all of the Serbian’s talent, it could be tempting to move him, which would eliminate those wages and bring in a transfer fee.
A weakened Old Lady would also mean one less power player on the European stage
Thus far, I’ve talked about Juventus potentially losing players. It’s also worth considering the other side of the coin, though. Should a serious punishment come down, the club would also be less able to bring in talent, shifting the balance of power and potentially reducing competition on the market.
While you could cynically say that Juventus and Serie A on the whole aren’t really power players on the market, the Turin club has brought in some talent as of late. Beyond Vlahovic, who we’ve already discussed, they also brought in Bremer and Paul Pogba, although the latter did admittedly arrive on a free transfer. Federico Chiesa’s move also became official, although it was agreed in 2020 as a two-year loan with an option to buy.
Now, imagine what would happen if Juve were in Serie B and (essentially) couldn’t spend money. Maybe Vlahovic would have ended up at Arsenal. Perhaps returning to Turin wouldn’t have held the same appeal for Pogba. In the most dramatic of situations, it’s theoretically possible that Chiesa’s loan option wouldn’t have been triggered.
And since transfers don’t exist in a vacuum, those alternate realities would have knock-on effects. Even if someone like Pogba is theoretically over-the-hill, he’s still on another roster and potentially helping that club if he doesn’t sign for Juventus. The same can be said for the upcoming transfer windows, should a hefty punishment come down.
Pushing beyond players, Juventus’ situation could also shake up the managerial space. Should the club ever move on from Max Allegri — financial challenges would make that even more unlikely — they’d presumably be looking for a world-class manager. A new executive structure could theoretically clear the way for Antonio Conte, but the Italian is a win-now guy who knows exactly what he wants. It seems unlikely that he’d be willing to join a club where relegation and/or limited spending could be on the cards.
Again, this all comes with a certain amount of speculation since we simply don’t know what the future holds for Juventus. If the early whispers and the potential consequences are any indication, though, this story is one to keep an eye on. If things go nuclear, the entire European landscape will be affected.