Tonali in discussions over 10-month ban after gambling probe

Sandro Tonali’s legal team are in discussions with Italian authorities over a 10-month ban after he admitted to placing bets on matches in which he played, according to Sky Italy.

Tonali has been assisting the investigation and his legal team have been working on a plea bargain after he admitted to making bets on AC Milan to win games in a hearing at the Italian Federation in Turin.

Without his cooperation, Tonali could face up to a three-year suspension under FIFA rules.

An agreement is understood to be close over the ban, which would see Tonali miss the rest of the Premier League season and Euro 2024, should Italy qualify.

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Keith Downie says Sandro Tonali is expected to learn what his punishment will be for breaking betting rules in the next 48 hours.

As it stands, Tonali is still available to play for Newcastle in their Champions League game at home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and trained with his team-mates on Tuesday.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, manager Eddie Howe said: “Sandro is fit and fine. Obviously there’s things going on, but it’s the same as he was before the Crystal Palace match.”

When pressed on Tonali’s availability, Howe added: “As far as I’m aware, I’m expecting him to be available for tomorrow.

“I’m in a position where I’ll plan like that until I’m told differently. I can’t second guess what’s going to happen.

“He’s trained today and he’s available. I’ve heard very little as I’ve been preparing for the game and will wait on anything concrete coming through.

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Paul Merson shares his thoughts on Sandro Tonali’s situation at Newcastle, with the Italian midfielder being investigated for alleged betting activity

“I’ve not spoken to him. It was very emotional for him at the end and it was clear to see for everybody. But it will help him in the long term as he will always be able to reflect back on the love he got from the supporters when he really needed it.

“It will help his long-term relationship, hopefully with the supporters.”

On any discussions with the board with regards to finding a Tonali replacement in January, Howe said: “It’s a bit too early for that as we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“There’s a lot of rumours going around but until we know, there’s nothing we can plan. We will prepare a strategy if we need one for that moment, but it’s not yet.”

Giuseppe Riso, Tonali’s agent, had claimed the player was living with a “gambling addiction”.

Nicolo Fagioli, the Juventus midfielder who was the first player named in the probe, has already been served a seven-month ban.

Fagioli – who reported his gambling to the investigation – had five months of a one-year ban suspended and was fined €12,500 (£10,848), while he agreed to a therapy plan of at least six months to tackle his gambling problem.

Analysis: Outcome is edging closer

Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie:

“It could well be that Tonali won’t be available to face Wolves this weekend and even perhaps that he has kicked his last ball for Newcastle this season.

“He has been in training this morning [Tuesday] and looked in fairly good fettle despite having this hanging over him.

“He got a lot off his chest when he travelled to Italy last week and he would have been helped over the weekend by the support he got from the St James’ Park crowd.

“There were so many questions thrown Eddie Howe’s way and he was fully in support of his player, saying he needs love right now.

“Tonali came on for the last 15 to 20 minutes of the match against Crystal Palace and at the end of the game, the coaching staff pushed Tonali forward for a standing ovation.

“As it stands, he is in contention to play against Borussia Dortmund but we might know the outcome before the game that he will serve a lengthy ban.

“It’s a delicate situation and an evolving story but the outcome is edging nearer and nearer.”

Howe: Newcastle giving Tonali ‘love and support’

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Newcastle boss Eddie Howe discusses Tonali’s situation amid a gambling investigation

Newcastle released a statement earlier this month expressing their “full support” for Tonali, who joined from Milan for £55m this summer.

Eddie Howe reiterated that stance last week, saying: “It’s absolutely crucial. It’s the most important part of this whole incident – Sandro and his welfare.

“It’s very easy for people to forget how young he is and the changes he’s had in his life, coming from Italy to England. That’s hard enough to deal with and now he has this situation.

“Straight away, it was throw our arms round him and protect him, and try to give him the love and support he needs to try to find solutions to the problems that he’s had.

“That’s what we’re endeavouring to do with a lot of conversations, a lot of communication with him and his family. It’s the people around him that are going to be so important to him as well.

“It’s a big effort from us and he’s handled himself superbly. He’s obviously emotional but handled himself with respect and dignity.”

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