Juve given appeal hearing date

August 25, 2006

ROME, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Juventus's appeal to a civil court to overturn their relegation for match-fixing has been scheduled for Sept. 1, a judicial source told Reuters on Friday.

In July a sports tribunal stripped the Italian club of their last two titles and demoted them to Serie B, where they will start next season on minus 17 points.

Juventus have argued the punishment is too harsh. Three other clubs caught up in the scandal - AC Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio - maintained their Serie A status but with points penalties.

In their 53-page appeals filing earlier this week, Juventus asked the civil court to return the club to Serie A and to restore the two titles.

Juventus's decision to turn to a civil court comes after they failed to regain their top division status via the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) court of conciliation - the final court of appeal in Italy's sports justice system.

It also the raised the prospect of a series of legal battles between the club and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and could invoke the wrath of FIFA, the sport's governing body, who have a marked aversion to football issues being taken to civil courts.

Italian newspapers reported on Friday that Juventus would lose 130 million euros ($166.1 million) if the sanctions were upheld and that they intended to sue the FIGC for that sum if they were not reinstated to Serie A.

Juve's demotion has led to a number of top players leaving the club, among them Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro, who has gone to Real Madrid and French midfielder Patrick Vieira and Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, sold to Inter Milan.

Coach Fabio Capello has left for Real Madrid and has been replaced by Frenchman and former Juve player, Didier Deschamps.

REVENUE SLUMP

The FIGC are also reported to be considering suing Juventus for damaging the image of Italian football.

The civil court in which Juventus will present their appeal, the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio, has the power to overturn or reduce their punishment, by lifting the club back into Serie A or reducing the penalty points.

It can also suspend their punishment while it considers the case - a course of action that would threaten a further postponement of the start of the Serie A championship, which has already been put back by two weeks to September 10.

Juve's fourth-quarter revenues slumped by almost 23 million euros ($29.56 million) to 40.3 million euros and their failure to take part in the Champions League and their relegation to Serie B are likely to hurt results in the 2006/07 fiscal year.