Saturday 10 December 2016

Conte will be free to join Blues even if found guilty

Matt Law

Published 06/04/2016 | 02:30

Having opted for a fast-track trial, Conte could have his sentence reduced by a third under Italian law but the former Juventus manager maintains his complete innocence and underlined that stance to Chelsea during negotiations to take the Stamford Bridge job. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili/Files
Having opted for a fast-track trial, Conte could have his sentence reduced by a third under Italian law but the former Juventus manager maintains his complete innocence and underlined that stance to Chelsea during negotiations to take the Stamford Bridge job. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili/Files

Antonio Conte will be free to take up his position as Chelsea head coach even if he is found guilty of sporting fraud by an Italian court.

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Cremona prosecutor Roberto di Martino yesterday requested a suspended six-month prison sentence and €8,000 fine over accusations Conte was complicit in match-fixing while in charge at Siena.

A verdict is expected next month, but the potential punishment guarantees that Conte would still be able to take up his post at Chelsea after Euro 2016. On Monday, it was announced that he would succeed interim manager Guus Hiddink.

DEFENDANTS

Conte is accused of being aware that some of his Siena players had fixed a game against Albinoleffe at the end of the 2010-11 season, when they had already secured promotion. The trial is so complicated, involving 104 defendants including Conte, that it is being heard in stages and has been described as a "nightmare" by the 46-year-old's lawyer, Leonardo Cammarata.

Having opted for a fast-track trial, Conte could have his sentence reduced by a third under Italian law but the former Juventus manager maintains his complete innocence and underlined that stance to Chelsea during negotiations to take the Stamford Bridge job.

Even if judge Pierpaolo Beluzzi did decide to convict, Conte would have the option of appealing to the Court of Appeal, then the Court of Cassation.

Under Italian law, he cannot be considered guilty until all possible appeals are rejected or when he accepts the verdict. Conte has already served a four-month sports ban during the 2012-13 season, when he was manager at Juve, for failing to report a match-fixing scandal while at Siena. He has always denied any wrongdoing.

But Cammarata is confident his client will be cleared and, of the prosecutor's recommendation, said: "It's no surprise. We're preparing to refute the prosecution's story. They're alleging omission, where it's required that the coach prevents the event (the fix) taking place, whereas before they were alleging active participation."

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid have confirmed they want to re-sign Diego Costa this summer but are braced for Chelsea to play hardball over a fee for the striker.

Costa is desperate to leave Stamford Bridge and return to Spain, despite the arrival of Conte, and Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said: "Diego Costa has a contract with Chelsea. It is logical Atletico is interested in the return of the striker, but to negotiate with Chelsea is very hard, nearly impossible."

Costa is determined to reunite with Atletico manager Diego Simeone and will attempt to help push through a deal.

Meanwhile, reports in the Netherlands suggest Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has been given assurances over his future and will be handed £80m to spend this summer. The Dutchman has one year left on his contract but it has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho would be heading to Old Trafford in the summer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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