Cash-strapped Parma’s match against Genoa postponed
ROME — A second consecutive match featuring crisis-hit Parma was postponed Friday, with the club still unable to provide basic services and on the brink of financial failure.
Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio announced the decision for Sunday’s match at Genoa following a federation board meeting, shortly after Parma’s players had asked for the postponement – threatening a boycott otherwise.
”Having taken into consideration the state of the players and having evaluated the request of the players’ and coaches’ associations, we’re postponing the match,” Tavecchio said. ”But this will be the last time.”
Last weekend’s home match against Udinese was also postponed indefinitely because the club couldn’t afford to pay for security and electricity.
The last-placed Serie A club has been sold twice this season, players have not been paid in months and a bankruptcy hearing has been set for March 19.
Tavecchio criticized Parma officials for not turning over the club’s financial records to judicial authorities.
”Nobody has brought the books to court, so bankruptcy proceedings have not started yet and neither have provisional measures to help Parma,” Tavecchio said. ”Right now nobody can give even 1 euro to a club that is failing but hasn’t yet failed.”
Earlier this month, Giampietro Manenti took over as Parma’s new owner and president from the Russian-Cypriot conglomerate which had taken control in December. Agreeing to pay off the club’s debts, which have been estimated at nearly 100 million euros (more than $100 million), Manenti paid a symbolic price of 1 euro ($1.12) for the club.
”The board agreed on guidelines that will establish wide restrictions and responsibilities for whoever buys a Serie A club,” Tavecchio said. ”You won’t be able to purchase a club for 1 euro anymore.”
Parma signed a 20,000 euro ($22,000) one-match deal with a sponsor earlier Friday that would cover bus travel and hotel costs for the match in Genoa, the ANSA news agency reported, but that didn’t appear to have any effect on the players or Roberto Donadoni, the former Italy coach.
In a show of solidarity, the Italian Players Association announced Thursday that all Serie A squads will go on the field 15 minutes late this weekend.
The players association said there should ”be some serious reflection over the rules for entering leagues,” and on the financial resources of clubs ”to avoid repeating similar situations at any professional level.”
Serie A rules state that if a squad is eliminated from the league during the first half of the season, all of its matches to that point are annulled. While if a club is eliminated in the second half – which could be the case for Parma – all remaining matches are considered 3-0 losses.
Other Serie A clubs are debating whether to step in and help Parma finish the season.
”The money is there but I still need two or three days,” Manenti told reporters in Parma before meeting with the city’s mayor, Federico Pizzarotti.
About 50 fans greeted Manenti with insulting chants and police were on hand to maintain order.
Meanwhile, the benches from inside Parma’s changing room at the Tardini Stadium have been put up for auction at a price of 2,000 euros ($2,250) apiece.
It’s all been a sad turn of events for a club once known as the strongest of Italy’s provincial teams and where players like Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro and Lilian Thuram became famous.
Parma won three European trophies in the 1990s – two UEFA Cups and one Cup Winner’s Cup – and was the Serie A runner-up in 1997.
But the club has seen hard times since the Parmalat fraud crisis a decade ago involving the Tanzi family which controlled the club then.