Tottenham risk paying Antonio Conte £15m settlement if he’s sacked

Tottenham Hotspur could be forced to pay head coach Antonio Conte £15m if they sack him before the end of the season, 90min understands.

Conte is under increasing pressure following a disappointing second season in north London, and the club are deliberating whether to cut ties with the Italian prior to the end of his contract.

Spurs’ quest to end their 15-year trophy drought saw them eliminated at relatively early stages of every cup competition they entered this term.

They were dumped out of the Carabao Cup in round three by Nottingham Forest, round five of the FA Cup by Championship side Sheffield United, and the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League by a struggling AC Milan.

After Tottenham threw away a two-goal lead late on in their 3-3 draw at Premier League basement club Southampton on Saturday, Conte delivered an infamous press conference in which he tore into his players for being ‘selfish’ and put pressure on the club hierarchy for the playing squad’s continual failures.

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Sources have told 90min that Spurs were understandably unhappy with Conte’s explosive outburst, though the decision over whether to sack him is not a simple one.

90min understands that there is a clause in Conte’s contract which decrees he would have to be paid £15m – the sum of his yearly salary – if he were sacked before the end of his deal. His contract expires at the end of June.

Conte previously won a drawn-out tribunal case with Chelsea over an unfair dismissal claim, which ended up costing the Blues £26.6m and making it the most expensive sacking in football history. This is a scenario Tottenham would be keen to avoid.

Spurs are also deliberating the future of managing director of football Fabio Paratici, who is set to learn the outcome of his appeal against a 30-month ban from Italian football for his role in Juventus’ financial irregularities scandal.

Should Paratici’s ban be upheld and extended to the rest of world football by UEFA and FIFA, then Tottenham would look to part ways with him.

Antonio Conte did a great job in his first season at Tottenham, but his second has been hugely disappointing in terms of both results and performances – and yet they still sit just about inside the Premier League’s top four.

But it’s unfathomable that he can criticise players for their commitment when he has continually played down the importance of his long-term future, ultimately culminating in this downward spiral of results and performances.

There are reasons why Conte hasn’t cut the same galvanising figure this year – he’s had to deal with the deaths of several personal friends, while he recently spent time back in Italy recovering from gallbladder surgery. His wife and daughter continue to live in his home country while he resides in London. For these reasons, he deserves some slack.

It’s now pretty obvious Conte won’t be at Spurs next season and while there are plenty of arguments to be made over the finances of dismissing him immediately, another factor should be who the club would be able to get in to replace him.

Former manager Mauricio Pochettino is out of work and is still admired by Daniel Levy and some of the Tottenham hierarchy, though he is not thought to be on Fabio Paratici’s immediate shortlist of potential successors to Conte, which ties in to the managing director of football’s own future – would Spurs rather find a new permanent coach who isn’t Pochettino immediately or make a pursuit once Paratici’s appeal has been heard?

With Tottenham now only in one competition and playing a single game a week for the most part now until the end of the season, it at least makes sense for them to be having doubts over whether to sack Conte immediately despite his most recent outburst.

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