The lawyer representing Juventus at the appeals trial in Italy’s match-fixing scandal has pleaded for leniency.
Cesare Zaccone said last week’s decision by a sports tribunal to relegate the club to Serie B with a 30-point penalty would have “devastating consequences”.
“Just to survive in Serie B next season we estimate that Juventus will have to earn about 80 points – equivalent to winning 27 of their 40 matches,” Zaccone told the appeal court’s panel of five judges.
Juventus were one of four clubs from Serie A division found guilty by the tribunal of conspiring with referees and linesmen to fix games during the 2004-05 season.
As well as being relegated the club were also stripped of their last two Serie A titles.
“The career for a footballer is short and some of our best players are world champions,” Zaccone added.
“None of them wants to risk two years in Serie B or, worse still, relegation to Serie C1 (Italy’s third division).”
The scandal broke in May with the publication of intercepted telephone conversations between their former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi and senior Italian Football Federation (FIGC) officials, discussing refereeing appointments during the 2004/05 season.
Zaccone claimed Moggi’s conduct was not “sporting fraud” but could be reduced to a charge of “unfair conduct”, which gave the court “greater freedom to choose an appropriate sanction”.
The other three clubs found guilty by – Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio – are also appealing against the verdicts.
The appeals court is hoping to deliver its verdicts in time to meet the July 25 deadline UEFA has set the for submitting teams to compete in next season’s Champions League and UEFA Cup competitions.