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FOOTBALL

Future of indebted Parma to be decided in March

Cash-strapped Serie A club Parma could be told on March 19th they can no longer operate as a going concern in Italy's top flight after a date for a bankruptcy hearing was set by a court on Tuesday.

Future of indebted Parma to be decided in March
Parma football club is said to be €100 million in debt. Photo: Paolo Cocco/AFP

Club management, team captain Alessandro Lucarelli, the town's mayor Federico Pizzarotti and league and federation officials were in attendance at a tribunal in Parma to hear the news.

Lucarelli, who last week sounded the alarm over the state of the club's situation, said: "In the current situation the only thing I can see is for us to declare bankruptcy."

Parma, who are said to be €100 million ($113 million) in debt and owe up to €17 million ($19.2 million) in unpaid taxes, have already been docked a penalty point by Serie A official over their inability to pay players' salaries.

The squad has not been paid since last summer, but last week the true financial state of the club was laid bare.

Bailiffs arrived at the club to repossess equipment and on Sunday, Parma's league game with Udinese had to be called off because they did not have the money to open their stadium or pay the stadium stewards.

Serie A chiefs and officials from the Italian football federation (FIGC) have recently pledged to club together in a bid to help Parma finish the current campaign.

FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio said: "Parma will finish the championship thanks to the help of fellow clubs who will put their hands into their own club coffers."

Lucarelli last week hit out at league and federation officials for "allowing" Parma to get in such dire straits.

Big promises

"Most of the fault lies with (former owner Tommaso) Ghirardi, but the league and the football federation (FIGC) should not have allowed this to happen. Now, all they're trying to do is salvage the league championship," he added.

Ghirardi sold Parma in December to an Albanian businessman although the deal lasted barely two months before it was sold on to Giampietro Manenti.

Manenti has been struggling to keep the club on its feet in recent weeks and the FIGC and Serie A league officials, according to reports, are in talks to loan the club five million euros so they can see out the remainder of the season.

Lucarelli added that Manenti "came to us with big promises, but so far we haven't seen a euro".

If Parma are declared bankrupt, all the previous results from games involving the team this season will stand and the teams who were due to meet Parma in upcoming games will be awarded 3-0 victories.

Whether Parma are allowed to continue this season or not, it is a spectacular fall from grace for the little provincial club who famously punched above their weight to win two Uefa Cups in their heyday of the 1990s, when they also finished runners-up in Serie A (1997).

Parma already suffered a huge knock when the club's owner and main backer, Parmalat, collapsed financially.

Since being sold by previous owner Ghirardi in December, Parma have had two new owners, neither of whom have provided the necessary funds or bank guarantees to drag the club out of the mire.

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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