Parma football club is on its knees.
It is riddled with debt, believed to be in the region of 90 million euros, and has already had three owners this season. And the team is at the bottom of Serie A.
Players and staff haven’t been paid since last July, including former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni.
Their last Serie A game with Udinese was postponed because the club were unable to pay the stewards, security and other staff involved on matchday.
It has been reported that Parma have only 40,000 euros in the bank and are nearing bankruptcy.
For those fortunate enough to watch Parma play in the 80s and late 90s, this news will hurt that little bit extra.
The club produced some of the best players Italian football had to offer – Gianluigi Buffon, Dino Baggio, Gianfranco Zola, Fabio Cannavaro, Antonio Bennarivo and Enrico Chiesa.
And they signed top players from abroad, including Nestor Sensini , Lilian Thuram, Juan Sebastian Veron, Hernan Crespo and Faustino Asprilla.
Crespo is now Parma’s youth team coach and he recently spoke about the horrific situation the club are in:
“We have cold showers because there is no electricity, so the players keep getting ill,” Crespo said. “We don’t even have guarantees for cleaning staff in the locker rooms. We are falling apart.
“We want to continue going forward, because we love this club and these lads, but it hurts to see the situation this training ground has been reduced to.”
Parma have been sold twice since December and neither owner has rectified the problems.
Rezart Taci, who bought the club from Tommaso Ghirardi, did absolutely nothing before selling it earlier this month to Giampietro Manenti.
It is painful, as a long-time “Calcio” follower, to read such things.
It’s difficult to point the finger at a specific person but all the previous owners have been blamed along with Serie A and the Italian FA for letting this happen.
Even the local mayor has stepped in, asking Manenti to find a financial solution or leave.
The city and club has suffered in the past. In April 2004, the club was declared insolvent following the financial meltdown of local dairy giant, Parmalat.
Alessandro Lucarelli, the Parma captain, recently spoke to the media in a revealing interview:
“In November, the now ex-president Tommaso Ghirardi came to the locker-room,” Lucarelli said, “and told us that our wages hadn’t been paid because he was in negotiations with Rezart Taci to sell the club. But negotiations did not go well.
“We told him that he was the president and therefore owed us our wages but he replied that he wouldn’t put one more euro into Parma. At that point, the meeting became rather tense. Some harsh things were said.
“We felt betrayed and taken for a ride by Ghirardi.”
[Ghirardi did eventually sell to businessman Taci in December but that lasted barely two months until the club was sold on again to Manenti]
“I never even saw Taci,” Lucarelli added. “We always had contact with [Ermir] Kodra, the president. I have to admit he was the only one during this absurd period to not make any promises.
“He just said the club was in serious financial difficulty and he didn’t know when he could pay us.
“Manenti immediately put big promises on the table. He showed us a bank statement ‘proving’ that he had 100 million euros available to invest in Parma. That was a really big sum, so we were slightly dubious.
“Then, every day, it was the same thing: ‘there are red tape problems, we have to wait another day or two’. So far, we haven’t seen a single euro.
“Making the club fail means sending home at least 200 families who work for Parma.
“I am not thinking of the players but of those who are supposed to get wages of 1,000 euros per month. We felt this responsibility on our shoulders.”
Some very touching comments from Lucarelli.
I just hope for the good of Parma and Calcio that there is a solution sooner rather than later.
It’s completely devastating.
This article was originally published for The Secret Footballer