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By ESPN Staff

Juventus facing 'financial meltdown', fears expert

Juventus are heading for 'financial meltdown' unless they receive a huge cash injection from private investors over the next two or three years, according to a football finance expert.

The Turin club were last week ordered by a sports court in Rome to play in Serie B next season, after being exposed as having a central involvement in arguably the biggest corruption case in Italian football history.

It is questionable whether Juventus - who have also been stripped of their league titles in 2005 and this year - will escape another relegation at the end of next season, as they will kick-off the new campaign with a 30-point deduction.

Fiorentina and Lazio have also been relegated to Serie B and will start next season with 12 and seven-point deficits respectively.

AC Milan will start the 2006-07 campaign in Serie A with a 15-point deficit and have had 44 points deducted from their total last season - meaning they will not compete in the lucrative Champions League.

Of the four clubs, Juventus have certainly been hit the hardest, and relegation will take a severe toll on the club's finances.

'Around 80% of Juventus' revenue is from sponsorship and television rights deals, and I would expect the vast majority of that to disappear,' believes Stuart Whitwell, a joint managing director of brand consultancy Intangible Business.

'There is a triple-hit really. Juventus can expect a loss of at least 50% of its income overnight. Under the circumstances sponsors could drop out, and I expect many to do so.

'There will also be a major loss of players, and thirdly the image of the club is tarnished.

'Unless there is private investment from the Agnelli family (who own the club) or another source, Juventus will go out of business.

'They could suffer financial meltdown.

'I think Juventus will need private investments of around 125million euros (£86million) a year for perhaps the next two or three years to keep going.

'Juventus' ticket revenue is incredibly small for a club of its size and many sponsors will not want to be associated with the club. With the loss of income, Juventus will not be able to command a premium.

'I do think the Juve image will recover over time, because of the history of the club. Juve does have a bit of magic about it, and I expect that to help carry it through, but it will take years.'