Juventus says first half loss shrinks as pandemic impact fades

MILAN (Reuters) -Italy’s top flight soccer club Juventus said on Friday its net loss shrank to 29.5 million euros ($31.7 million) in the first half of its 2022-23 fiscal year as the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic faded.

The result compares with a restated loss of 112.1 million euros for the same period of the previous fiscal year.

Juventus said in a statement that revenue development and actions taken to contain costs had also contributed to narrowing the loss in the six months to Dec. 31.

It added that although the economic and financial background remained unfavourable, there was a “significant improvement” in the current fiscal year compared to the previous one.

The club, which posted a 239 million euro loss for the year to June 30, 2022, had already said in September that it expects to also finish the current fiscal year in the red.

Italy’s most successful team is being investigated by prosecutors for alleged false accounting, and publication of its first-half results, initially expected in February, has been repeatedly postponed.

As part of ongoing inquires, the club was docked 15 points in January for the current Serie A season by a soccer court investigating the club’s transfer dealings, leaving it in the middle of the league table.

Juventus are now in seventh place, just four points outside the European qualifying places.

The allegations of financial misconduct and poor earnings performance prompted controlling shareholder Exor – the holding company of the Agnelli family – to reshuffle the club’s top management, while Juventus’ board, including former Chairman Andrea Agnelli, resigned late last year.

A court hearing in Juventus’ hometown of Turin will start on Monday to evaluate whether to order a trial of Andrea Agnelli and 11 other people and the club itself over allegations of false accounting.

The club could be hit with further sporting penalties as it is also alleged to have agreed to pay players back most of their COVID-related wage cuts without properly accounting for it.

($1 = 0.9296 euros)

(Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari, editing Federico Maccioni, Kirsten Donovan)