Parma F.C. struggled on the field this season in Italian top flight Serie A, finishing dead last with only 19 points in 38 games. But the club had even bigger troubles off the field as the financials of the club were in disarray. With no buyer willing to take on the team’s debt, Parma went into bankruptcy and will now start over in the amateur league Serie D.
Parma is a club with a long history behind it. Founded in 1913 as “Parma Foot Ball Club,” they entered league play after World War I. Although the club never rose to the heights of Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan, they had a great spell of success in the 1990s when they won the UEFA Cup twice (1995, 1999), the European Cup Winners Cup (1993), and the Italian Cup twice (1992, 1999).
During those years, the team had an ensemble of some of the best players in soccer including Hernan Crespo, Gianfranco Zola, Tomas Brolin, Faustino Asprilla, Roberto Sensini, Fabio Cannavaro, Lilian Thuram, Juan Sebastian Veron, Enrico Chiesa and Gianluigi Buffon. These were all fabulous players and they made Parma into a very successful cup team that played some extremely exciting soccer.
After the golden era in the 90s and the early 2000s, the club started slipping down and many of the big players had left for bigger clubs in Italy and throughout Europe. Parma was relegated to Serie B after the 2007-2008 season after finishing 19th in Serie A, but managed to go right back up again after just one season in the second tier. A few years followed with mid-table finishes, before the team ended up in 6th last season and earning a spot in the Europa League.
That was a really good result for a Parma seeing that didn’t have the star quality of old. But in the background, the financial troubles had already started brewing, and the debt kept rising. The was disqualified from participating in the Europa League after they had failed to pay income taxes on salaries on time, and that was a major blow as the Europa League would have generated some much needed income.
The majority stake in the club switched hands a couple of times in a short span, and the club is believed to have debts of around $85 million as it went into bankruptcy.
Parma has around 100 players on contract, and they will now be able to leave the club free of charge, but many of time missed out on a lot of salary. The players hadn’t been paid in months and finally said enough is enough and went on strike. They were eventually paid some money from the league.
ESPN FC published a statement from the club on Monday that read: “The administrators of Parma FC Dr Angelo Anedda and Dr Alberto Guiotto announce that, at 14.00 of today, June 22 2015, no offer has been made to purchase the sports club.
In the coming hours, the administrators will meet with the committee of creditors and the empowered judge Dr Pietro Rogato to make the necessary decisions regarding the procedure of bankruptcy and a provisional accountancy period.”
They will now have to start over in Serie D, the fifth-tier of Italian soccer. It will be a long way back for the I Crociati (The Crusaders) to make it back to the Serie A, and will a lot of uncertainty about players and personnel, they might never be able to get back up. It’s sad to see a club with such a long history fall like this, but it’s another tale of mismanagement from owners that really has no business owning a soccer team.
Ciao Parma, we’ll always remember the 90s.