By Giulio Piovaccari
MILAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) – Juventus JUVE.MI have been deducted 15 points for the current season by an Italian soccer court investigating the club’s transfer dealings, leaving the country’s most successful team marooned in mid-table.
The ruling, which also deals a blow to the club’s reputation, is tougher than a nine-point deduction a soccer prosecutor had requested earlier on Friday during a hearing looking at the way Juventus and a number of other teams dealt with player exchange deals.
With 20 games left to play this season, Juve were third in Serie A with 37 points, 10 behind leaders Napoli. The deduction pushes them down into 10th place, outside the qualifying spots for lucrative European competition.
In a late night statement, the court also imposed bans from holding office in Italian soccer on 11 past and present Juventus directors.
These included 24 months for Andrea Agnelli, who was replaced this week as chairman after formally stepping down in November, and 30 months for former sports director, Fabio Paratici, now managing director of football at England’s Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
Juventus said it would appeal to the country’s Sport Guarantee Board once the reasons for the ruling were published.
“We consider this to be a blatant injustice also for millions of fans, which we trust will soon be remedied in the next court,” lawyers for the club said in a statement.
Juventus have denied wrongdoing and said their accounting was in line with industry standards.
The club is controlled by the Agnelli family’s Exor EXOR.ASholding company and its shares are listed on the Milan stock exchange.
The ruling reversed a previous decision in April to clear Juventus, 10 other clubs and their executives of wrongdoing.
Soccer authorities had reopened the case and requested the partial cancellation of the initial decision so they could assess new documents collected by public prosecutors in the city of Turin who are investigating the finances of Juventus.
The court confirmed the acquittal of eight other soccer clubs, including Serie A’s Sampdoria and Empoli, and their directors, for whom prosecutors had also wanted to reopen the case.
Public prosecutors in Turin have requested Andrea Agnelli, 11 other people and the club itself to stand trial over allegations of false accounting.
Juventus shareholders earlier this week appointed a new slimmed-down, five-member board with Gianluca Ferrero – an accountant close to John Elkann, the senior business figure in the family that has owned the club for a century – replacing Andrea Agnelli as chairman after over 10 years.
(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Keith Weir, Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)