CHELSEA’S legal case with former boss Antonio Conte over his £9million contract begins today – with his replacement in charge on the brink of the sack.
The London club have been locked in a dispute with Conte over how much severance pay he is due ever since they axed him during pre-season.
Now the Times report Chelsea and the Italian will start their Premier League managers’ arbitration hearing today in an attempt to finally resolve their issues.
And the case comes at a time when the 49-year-old’s replacement in charge at Stamford Bridge is now fighting for his job following a disappointing season in the role.
Sarri is currently odds-on at 4/6 to be the next Premier League boss to lose his job with supporters growing unhappy about the direction he is taking the side.
A move from season ticket holders to boycott home matches at Stamford Bridge has begun, such is the frustration among some fans.
All that comes at a time when the club is trying to fight off the legal demands Conte is making following his dismissal in July last year.
Central to the dispute is that Conte believes he should be paid up the full final year of his three-season deal as manager – worth £9m.
BREACH OF CONTRACT
There is also an attempt by his legal team to chase an extra payment to cover potential loss of earnings because Chelsea left it so late in the summer to sack him he was unable to get a job elsewhere.
But the club are fighting the claim, taking the view that the manager’s behaviour during his last year in charge amounted to a breach of his contract.
Conte won the Premier League in his first season in charge, but the final 12 months of his campaign was littered with fall-outs behind the scenes.
One of the biggest issues was his public spat with Diego Costa, which flared up after the manager texted the striker to tell him he had no future at Stamford Bridge.
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That led to a wrangle with the player which eventually resulted in him being sold to Atletico Madrid, with Chelsea believing the row had dramatically reduced how much they could charge a club to sell him.
The text message is understood to be part of the evidence the Blues are preparing to submit to the panel of three.
It is expected the case will last until the end of next week.