Juventus face financial crisis over Cristiano Ronaldo rape claims… whether the star is found guilty or not

The Italian giants look set to suffer – even if Ronaldo is cleared of the allegations – and could see club sponsors move away if their star player is found guilty.

Juve’s share price has plummeted by almost 30 per cent since German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Ronaldo had been accused of rape by Kathryn Mayorga.

The American, 34, says the player assaulted her in a hotel penthouse in 2009.

Ronaldo has vehemently denied the accusation.

Between September 27 – the day before the allegations against Ronaldo were published by Der Spiegel – and October 10 the Juventus share price dropped from £1.33 to 94p – a fall of 29.6 per cent.

The price recovered slightly yesterday, closing the day up for the first time since the allegations were published.

This followed the statement from Ronaldo’s lawyer claiming that a cyber-criminal had fabricated stolen documents to make him look guilty of rape.

The Juventus share price closed the day on 96p, up 1.96 per cent – but, it was reported last night that Der Spiegel is standing by its story.

In Football 50 2018, an annual league table of the world’s most valuable football clubs by brand worth – compiled by Brand Finance and published in May – Juventus were placed 11th in the world.

The Old Lady were initially expected to climb up the table over the next year thanks to Ronaldo.

However, Brand Finance director Bryn Anderson told SunSport that Juventus could now slip down the rankings due to the allegations made against their star player.

He says that the significant financial rewards Juventus anticipated from the signing of Ronaldo are now at risk.

Anderson said: “Short-term, Juventus has seen a positive impact from Ronaldo’s signing.

“Increases in merchandise sales, more lucrative corporate contracts and ultimately a higher share price have been observed in the short-term.

“However, the signing would have been predicated on this positive impact being sustained over, say, a five-year horizon and beyond perhaps.

“If Ronaldo were to never play for Juventus again, the club would struggle to cover the significant fee paid for the player through its own commercial operations without Ronaldo’s presence.”

Juventus paid a transfer fee of £99m for the Portuguese striker.

The total estimated cost to Juventus of Ronaldo’s four-year contract, including an annual salary of £48m, is a staggering £298m – or £74m-a-year.

That’s according to analysis from accounting giant KPMG published on September 16 in the Financial Times.

Juventus saw it as a worthwhile investment given Ronaldo’s star appeal and his ability to attract new funds to the Turin club.

Juve’s value on the stock market lifted by a staggering 37 per cent, from around £592m on June 28, when rumours of Ronaldo’s move to Italy started surfacing, to £812m on July 10 when the transfer was confirmed in the media.

It has since risen to £963m, but Anderson says that Juventus may now struggle to grow in the way it hoped – whether Ronaldo is found guilty or not.

Anderson said: “Until Ronaldo is either cleared or found to be not guilty his brand is eroding at a rapid rate.

“No new sponsorships would be willing to take the risk, and existing contracts are ready to be terminated.”

He added: “If cleared it is likely Ronaldo’s brand will always be stained, which has negative impacts on his and Juventus’ earning potential.”

Ronaldo could be forced to pay back millions to sponsors if the rape allegations are proven.

Nike and EA Sports – which both have commercial contracts with Ronaldo – issued public statements on the back of the sexual assault claims.

Anderson says: “Modern contracts regarding endorsements and sponsorship deals have various break clauses in place.

“This ensures flexibility for the corporate brand should negative publicity result from the actions of a sponsored player, allowing the brand to distance itself from the event and player.

“Parallels could be drawn with Tiger Woods, who had a multitude of sponsors drop him after the marital affair scandal broke.”

And Anderson says that sponsors could also walk away from Juventus.

“Regarding Juventus, many players have to adhere to the club’s code of conduct and policies to ensure that club sponsors are not open to the risk of negative actions on behalf of the players.

“Therefore, Juventus also faces the risk of its commercial partners dropping them.”

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