January 24, 2020

It all started so well. Fresh off the back of domestic domination with Juventus, Antonio Conte took the Italian national job for a couple of years.

Most likely to cut his teeth on the world stage, and take a break from club management until something attractive came along.

And along it did come in the form of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. A coveted job by so many, but also one that has proven a poisoned chalice in recent times too.

Conte would be guaranteed a baptism of fire in his first-ever spell in English football, and many questioned whether the Italian’s tactics could work in the Premier League.

After an underwhelming start, which culminated in a 3-0 thrashing away at bitter rivals Arsenal, Conte made the bold choice of changing his tactics and switching to a back three.

The change proved to be inspired, as Conte guided the Blues to their fifth Premier League title.

The next season proved less successful for Conte, as it appeared teams had adapted to playing against a back three, and the Londoners ended the season in a disappointing 5th place, with 10 league defeats.

However, Conte did manage to capture the FA Cup, beating rivals Manchester United 1-0 in the final.

It would prove to be his last act as Chelsea boss, and he was unceremoniously sacked in July 2018, after two years in charge.

Both have moved on since then - Conte to Inter Milan, Chelsea to Maurizio Sarri and then Frank Lampard.

But it seems the fall out from this saga continues to dog the club, as Conte has sought compensation from the club for unfair dismissal.

In an unprecedented move, the Italian recently won his legal battle against former employers and was granted a little over £85,000 in compensation.

This could set an interesting future precedent, which may well see other dismissed managers suing their former clubs for compensation.

The ruling represents another blow for Chelsea, whose sacking of Conte and his backroom staff cost the club an eye-watering £26.6 million, the most expensive dismissal in the history of English football.

An employment tribunal has finally ruled that the Italian was unfairly dismissed from his job, a sentiment that many fans, pundits, and neutrals also share.

The breakdown of the costs wound up being a basic payment of £1,524 along with compensation of £83,682, making a total of £85,206 exactly. 

It might not seem much for a club of Chelsea’s resources to pay out, and it probably isn’t, but it’s the principle that is important here.

The club has not contested the case, and are not expected to. This is not the first instance of Chelsea finding themselves in legal hot water.

Back in 2016, former club doctor Eva Carneiro settled on a constructive dismissal case and was awarded compensation totalling close to £1.5 million.

More recently, the club found itself on the wrong end of a transfer ban surrounding its dealings with regards to the signing of youth players.

Since Roman Abramovich took charge of the club in 2003, Chelsea has shelled out more than £90 million in compensation for managerial sackings.

Let us hope this tribunal might be the catalyst that sees the club change its approach here.

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About the author 

James Rowland

James is the Commercial Director at Neathouse Partners and regularly writes articles surrounding issues in HR & Employment Law. Outside of the office, James is a keen Cricketer, playing in the Cheshire League for Nantwich CC. He also loves going to watch his football team, Crewe Alexandra. Feel free to connect with James on LinkedIn.

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