‘Il grido di battaglia’ is the official anthem of Parma, who are now known as Parma Calcio 1913. The anthem translates as ‘the battle cry,’ which is apt for a club that were declared bankrupt in April. Not only will they play in Serie D, they have also lost use of their ground, the Stadio Ennio Tardino, for the first time in 91 years and are selling off their UEFA club trophies to raise funds.
The Italians are in debt to the tune of $223 million and an Italian judge ruled the club could be sold for as little as $25 million, but no takers have come in thus far.
For soccer historians and long standing fans, it will feel as if history is repeating. Parma has gone through administration and insolvency on two different occasions in their history.
The first was back in 1968 when the club went into liquidation and was playing in the bottom league. It took a decade just to get back to Serie B.
Bad luck turned a screw again in April 2004 when Parmalat the club’s main sponsors who featured on their shirts for many seasons went through a financial meltdown. The club were duly declared insolvent and remained in administration until 2007.
Lately Parma has been accused from UEFA of not paying income tax on football player’s salaries and this led to a ban on playing in the Europa League, which they had qualified for. Last season, they played in Serie A without a UEFA license — something that is virtually unheard of. They were docked points and relegated as a consequence.
The Yellow and Blues have certainly had their fair share of financial hardship, but in 2015 they hit rock bottom. Their winning replica trophies from the following wins have been put up for sale: Coppa Italia’s from 1992, 1999 and 2002, The Cup Winners’ Cup from 1993, The European Super Cup from 1994, The UEFA Cup from 1995, 1999 and the Italian Super Cup also from 1999.
UEFA rules clearly state that a trophy cannot be taken out of the country and that they don’t encourage clubs to have the power to sell their trophies. It is quite possible that UEFA may look to bar the club from selling their silverware.
When you look at the success of Parma in the 1990s, considering what the club went through to get there, it is quite remarkable. But that was spearheaded solely by Parmalat who in the process could bring in some of the biggest names in European soccer.
The likes of Gianfranco Zola, Fabio Cannavaro, Faustino Asprilla, Gianluigi Buffon and Hernan Crespo who all played major roles in making Parma one of Italy’s most successful and respected teams of the 1990s have long gone. Their likes won’t be around the corner anytime soon either.
These are desperately sad times for such a famous club and yet history says that somehow and somewhere they will bounce back. Just don’t expect it anytime soon.
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