Parma – a world renowned club in Italy for some of the talent they produced, and their run in the 90’s where they won 4 European trophies. Now potentially just a few months from extinction. Someone is responsible, and to us, that is Tommaso Ghirardi. This man, since taking over the club, has run it into the ground with crippling debts and selling their best players.
When he took over in 2007 – their debt was a measly £11.8m – look at most clubs now and that’s nothing. When he sold the club to new investors last summer after finishing 6th – the club was in £150m of debt and had taken part in one of the most baffling series of transfers in the history of football. Between the summers of 2013 and 2014 they had been part of 450 transactions – purchases, sales, loans and co-ownerships.
I discussed this at length with someone I met while watching the World Cup in a pub. He was a long-time fan of the club and said that their owners vision was that a small percentage would make it, and those would be valuable players. Effectively the took on everyone half decent or of a good potential in the hope there was a Paul Pogba or Marco Verratti out there. The younger ones they loaned out/co-owned with lower league teams, and if they didn’t do so well or it was clear they would never make Serie A grade – they sold on. It was a strange one…
As you can expect, fans are not happy. 1000 protested outside the ground where they should have played Udinese on Sunday. The club no longer have hot water at their ground – players have to shower in cold water. Players are driving themselves to games as the club sometimes cannot afford transport. Those players have not been paid since the start of the season too – so fair play to them for sticking around and not complaining too much.
Is their Salvation in their History?
This is a team who, in the UEFA Cup final in 1999 – had the likes of Gigi Buffon, Lilian Thuram, Fabio Cannavaro, Juan Sebastian Veron, Enrico Chiesa, Dino Baggio and Hernan Crespo (the last of which is now their youth coach). They are a loved club by many around the world, not just in Italy.
Other clubs seem keen to help – the president of Sampdoria hinted that clubs could help them through to the end of the season. The Italian Football Federation could well loan them around £3.7m to cover costs until May. The Major of Parma has said that the local authorities could give them a grant to help.
Its clear people do not want to see this club die. It’s also very rare a team in the top division simply goes bust – it may be a more regular occurrance outside of England, with the likes of Lecce, Reggina and more relegated many divisions (although that was more to do with bribery and corruption). This man, Ghirardi, is the one that should be held accountable. He should suffer, not the club or the fans.