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Lawyers at the ready: Napoli will demand full payment even after Sarri release clause expires

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Today is the last day before the buyout window closes

Juventus v SSC Napoli - Serie A

Midnight is the witching hour, the hour when Cinderella’s coach turns back into a pumpkin and also, we believe, the hour in the Central European Time Zone when Maurizio Sarri’s £7m (€8m) release clause expires.

There’s been a lot of speculation about what happens after that, most of it unfounded. Wild theories, like Sarri resigning and paying a €1.5m fine, seem to have come out of nowhere. A more rational explanation claims that Italian laws mean that as long as Napoli continue to pay Sarri his regular installments on a €1.5m per year contract (which doesn’t expire until 2020), the club still own his employment rights.

That certainly seems to be Napoli’s view, who have made it a point to continue demanding compensation for their former head coach, quite likely matching the value stipulated by said expiring buyout clause.

Aurelio de Laurentiis insisting on being paid for a coach who’s surplus to requirements (now that he’s signed Carlo Ancelotti) is entirely in keeping with his bare-knuckle approach to business. Frankly, given his nature, it seemed within the realm of possiblity that he’d demand even more than the £7m required to activate the release clause, once it expires.

Chelsea aren’t above some legal fisticuffs themselves, though. Sky Sports is reporting that Chelsea are considering filing a lawsuit against Napoli, or appealing to FIFA. For his part, Sarri himself is said to be considering a lawsuit demanding to be released from his contract.(EDIT: The Guardian reports that Sarri would make a case for constructive dismissal, given that somebody has been hired to fill the job he once held.)

We don’t know what is settled law in this area and what isn’t. What is becoming painfully clear, however, is that if a deal isn’t struck by the witching hour of midnight, the drama over who will be Chelsea’s next head coach could be prolonged indefinitely, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.