Juventus are set to announce the return of former vice-president, Roberto Bettega, to the Bianconeri in an as yet unspecified role.
Bettega, an ex-Juve player and Vice-President of the club from 1994 to the outbreak of the match-fixing scandal in 2006, was recently cleared of any wrongdoing related to club’s transfer policy. He had stood down from his position as Vice-President after the Calciopoli episode but continued in a consultant’s role at the club. However, Juventus did not renew his contract and as a result he left the club in the summer of 2007. His return comes just days after former director, Antonio Giraudo, was sentenced to a three year prison term for his part in the Calciopoli scandal.
Bettega was a member of Juve’s now infamous Triad, consisting of sporting director Luciano Moggi and director Giraudo. This was the management instrumental in propelling Juventus to the top in the 1990s and the first half of this decade. Bettega courted controversy during his previous tenure at the club with many in Italian circles believing he was the figure behind Juve’s alleged ‘administrative doping’. However, there was no concrete evidence for the same and the matter dissolved. However when the Calciopoli scandal broke out in 2006, Bettega was amongst the chief suspects implicated in the case but whilst Moggi and Giraudo received lengthy sporting bans there were no sanctions for Bettega himself. After quitting his post in the wake of the scandal he was appointed as a consultant to the then new-Juve management. Bettega’s relationship with Giovanni Cobolli Gigli and Co. was a difficult one and it came as little surprise when they refused to renew his contract in 2007. But he has always been loved by the fans with his sudden departure leaving many seething. In his playing days Bettega was a Juve legend, scoring129 goals during a 13-year stint with the Bianconeri.
Most Juve fans will see the move to recall Bettega a wise one considering the current situation at the club. Ciro Ferrara hasn’t been able to deliver the results for the team and last week’s Champions League exit and loss to Bari added further pressure. While many believe that the Coach should be fired, President Jean-Claude Blanc is firmly behind him at least for the moment. Thus in such a time of need, Bettega’s return could not be more welcome at the Old Lady. Juventus haven’t confirmed what his exact role at the club will be but it is believed that he will provide assistance to Ferrara and sporting director Alessio Secco. Bettega’s public relations skills are equally distinguished and his love for the club will help bridge the tense relations between the fans and the management.
One of the reasons for Juve’s pre-Calciopoli domination was the team’s excellent transfer policy which seems to have suffered since their 2007 return to the top flight. With the January transfer market about to open and Juventus evidently in the need of reinforcements, Bettega’s experience should prove invaluable. However, this move does raise questions about the current management. The ‘Newventus’ as they had been termed had vociferously claimed that the club would turn over a new leaf post Calciopoli, but now with Bettega returning to the fold they are somewhat going back on their promise and looking to the past to solve their present predicament.
The question is, is Bettega’s return to Turin a shrewd business and footballing decision that will pave the way for calm and collectiveness in the boardroom, or is it a sign of a struggling club pushing the panic button and turning to old names to rescue them? The current scenario seems to suggest that management is obviously dissatisfied by the team’s performance. There will be many in the peninsula who will feel that the former Vice-President’s return is a bad omen for Calcio. Considering the fact that there are still hearings and appeals going on with regards to the scandal, one may view this move as a bit premature. Italian football’s image took a body blow after 2006 and since then the league has been in a steady decline. So the return of one Calcio’s most controversial figures may not bode well for the league authorities. However, Juventus fans will most certainly welcome Bettega with open arms and hope he is the solution to their current predicament.