June 14, 2024

Newcastle is considering lowering Sandro Tonali’s pay after he received a 10-month ban in Italy for violating gambling regulations.

The 23-year-old is expected to be sidelined until August, with a slim chance of returning this weekend, pending a wider FIFA ban. The club is currently in discussions with lawyers to determine whether Tonali will continue to be among the team’s top earners during his absence. While some reports in Italy suggested that Newcastle might sue AC Milan for not disclosing Tonali’s gambling issues, sources close to the club have downplayed this possibility. The club’s executives are keeping their options open and are prioritizing the player’s well-being as he deals with his gambling addiction, as stated by his agent.

Eddie Howe has commended Tonali’s response to a challenging period, and gambling charities have expressed support for him. However, due to a judgment from the Italian Football Federation, Tonali, who was signed from AC Milan for £55 million in July, will also be ineligible for Euro 2024 if his national team qualifies. Unlike the Football Association’s ban terms for Ivan Toney, Tonali is expected to be allowed to continue club training and participate in behind-closed-doors games.

 

Gabriele Gravina | FIGC

 

Lawyers acknowledged the complexity of Newcastle’s response to Tonali’s ban, which has made 12 appearances for the club. Stephen Taylor Heath, co-head of sports law at JMW Solicitors, explained that the starting point for the club’s lawyers would be scrutinizing the agreement between the two clubs during the summer deal. He mentioned that transfer agreements typically include warranties from the selling club, which could involve assurances that the player is not subject to any investigations of a criminal or disciplinary nature at the time of the transaction.

The Premier League’s standard contract contains certain obligations for players, including compliance with the rules and not bringing the club into disrepute. The contract also specifies the actions the club can take in such circumstances. Tonali and fellow midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo left Italy’s training camp on Oct 12 after being informed of an investigation by Italian prosecutors.

The Italian Football Federation president, Gabriele Gravina, revealed that an agreement had been reached with Sandro Tonali for an 18-month plea agreement, with eight months dedicated to rehabilitation and public appearances. Newcastle is set to face Wolves on Saturday, and it remains uncertain whether FIFA will have extended Tonali’s ban by that time. Alan Shearer praised the support from the Newcastle public for Tonali.

The player’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, disclosed that his client is battling a gambling addiction, and the PFA is providing ongoing support. Various groups and campaigns, including the Big Step campaign, have called for empathy and support for footballers struggling with addiction, emphasizing the pervasive influence of gambling advertising in the sport.

Tonali was one of several players named in the FIGC’s investigation, which also resulted in a seven-month ban for Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli.

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