“Antonio Conte has a record of consistent success in his career as a manager and as a player.
We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge and are confident he will find all he needs to maintain that high standard of achievement.”
Bruce Buck, Chelsea Chairman
Conte may well have a record of consistent success, but the Italian also harbours a sordid reputation for match-fixing in Serie A.
Convenient then, that Chelsea would choose to officially announce him as manager on the same day his court trail gets underway.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) April 4, 2016
Antonio Conte will join Chelsea following the conclusion of Italy’s Euro 2016 campaign; the Italian coach has signed a three-year contract valued at £15m-a-year.
Conte had previously announced his decision to step down as his national team’s manager after the summer tournament in France and the former Juventus boss has been in talks with Chelsea officials for several weeks.
Roman Abramovich was seen meeting his new employee in London yesterday to finalise the new agreement, which is rumoured to include a £5m bonus if Conte delivers Chelsea’s second Champions League title.
In the official statement released by the club, the new Chelsea boss remarked:
“I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League.
Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy.”
“Chelsea fans” and “passionate” are two items that don’t appear together in a sentence very often. Conte is clearly keen to re-grow the London club’s reputation – re-growth is something the former Juventus player is experienced in, as this hilarious tweet exemplifies:
Chelsea will be hoping Antonio Conte can regenerate the team just like he regenerated his hair… pic.twitter.com/IDQllgDnHa
— Ryan Bailey (@RyanJayBailey) April 4, 2016
Conte’s Stands Trial For ‘Last Bet’ Scandal
Filippo Carobbio, former professional for Italian side Siena, played under Antonio Conte during the newly-announced Chelsea manager’s time in charge of the club.
Carobbio infamously alleged that plans were put in place to fix the result of Siena’s game against Novara in April 2011, as a result of Siena president, Massimo Mezzaroma placing a hefty sum of money on a draw – conveniently, the game ended 2-2.
Conte is accused of being an accomplice in the scandal, now known in courtrooms as the ‘Last Bet’ case. It is alleged that Antonio Conte was fully aware of the plot, but was fortunately cleared of any wrongdoing in relation to the Novara fixture.
Conte may not be so lucky the second time around. The current Italy boss faces fresh allegations that he was aware of a second attempt to arrange a result, against AlbinoLeffe towards the tail end of the same season.
According to Carobbio, Siena’s assistant coach, Cristian Stellini instructed both himself and fellow team-mate Claudio Terzi to arrange a result with players from AlbinoLeffe to:
“make arrangements for the the return game, so that the points would go to the side with the greater need.”
In what appeared to be a surprise result, AlbinoLeffe won the game 1-0:
“…in the end, we all agreed, the team and the coach, to give the win to AlbinoLeffe.”
Conte has always maintained that he never knew of any illegal activity. He did however agree to a plea-bargain put forward by the prosecutor, Stefano Palazzi, that would have seen him accept a three-month touchline ban and a fine of €200,000 – but importantly, without having to issue an admission of guilt.
Conte’s plea bargain was outright rejected.
Immediately following the allegations, the Italian Football Federation suspended him from football for the ten months for failing to report match-fixing – the ban was later reduced.
The case was suspended but is now heading to court, in what should conclusively see an end to the rumour and speculation.
Conte requested a fast-track trial, which would see the case open on April 4th, the same day Chelsea have chosen to officially announce him as their new head coach.
Defence arguments are scheduled to be delivered by April 21st, but the judge has also set two more hearings for May should they be needed.
Antonio Conte can expect to be sentenced should arrive before he is set to lead Italy into Euro 2016, which kicks off in France in June.
A ‘Deflecting’ Tactic from Chelsea
Conte’s case gets underway today in the northern Italian city of Cremona, yet all the attention remains fixated on Stamford Bridge.
According to his representatives, despite his innocence, Antonio Conte’s reputation may be:
“…seriously damaged if he is found guilty of sporting fraud.”
“He feels he was dragged into something he has nothing to do with.”
Leonardo Cammarata, Antonio Conte’s Lawyer
If Conte is found guilty of having a direct involvement with match fixing, many expect that he will face nothing more than a fine as a result of his status within Italian football.
Despite the evidence against the Italian manager, Antonio Conte is unlikely, unjustly or otherwise, to face any serious consequences – allowing him to focus on Italy’s preparations for Euro 2016 and then his new job at Stamford Bridge.
Irregardless of the case’s outcome, Chelsea clearly don’t want the case to build traction – evidently looking to smother news about the case.