The takeover of Italian club AS Roma has been officially confirmed, with Boston executive Thomas DiBenedetto the man leading a group of American investors who were reportedly keen to splash out a cool €77m, for a 67% share of the club, finally reaching an agreement to take over the club from the Sensi family. The entrepreneur landed in the Italian capital Monday morning, and has been involved in advanced negotiations since.
AS Roma statement confirming the agreement
And late Tuesday evening, Roma released a statement confirming the takeover: “Italpetroli S.p.a, UniCredit S.p.a. and DiBenedetto AS Roma LLC announce that negotiations in Rome over the past few days have reached a basic agreement to buy up control of AS Roma S.p.a. Based on this agreement, the buy-out should be completed by a company made up of 60 per cent DiBenedetto AS Roma LLC and 40 per cent UniCredit S.p.a. There is also an option for UniCredit to sell their shares to other Italian investors.”
Whilst the share of the club may not be as much as the investors had initially hoped for, the club continued in their statement by affirming that there are still details which won’t yet be revealed, until the agreement is officially signed over.
“Over the next few days, we will proceed to write out the definitive versions of the agreements reached today, which also include commitments for the reinforcement and future development of AS Roma. The signature of this agreement is expected within the next 20 days, allowing DiBenedetto AS Roma LLC to present financial guarantees. Until said guarantees and the signatures are finalised, we will not be revealing any further details on the contents of the agreement.
Plans for the future
The ambitious Americans are set to buy out part of UniCredit, the bank who became a co-owner of the club following a debt-for-equity swap with the Sensi family, after the passing of former president Franco Sensi. Upon arriving in Italy on Monday, DiBenedetto revealed some of his group’s ambitious plans for the future, making it clear that they are determined to turn the Giallorossi into a European force.
“My dream is exactly the same as millions of fans: to make Roma one of the top clubs in the world – a squad capable of winning [Serie A] every year, and capable of finally being competitive in the Champions League”DiBenedetto was quoted as saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Nevertheless, he has acknowledged that there are a few financial issues at the club to take care of first, with his first order of business being to: “get the budget in order and to bring the club under UEFA’s financial fair-play parameters, considering that we don’t meet them at the moment. Then we will look at selling some players, and bringing in at least five or six new ones.
All roads lead to Rome
“The invariable mark of a dream is to see it come true. You say ‘All roads lead to Rome’, don’t you? Well, I hope that one day everyone will travel down those roads to come and see what we have achieved – something long-lasting”he continued.
“I’ve never had any other clubs in mind. I have a long relationship with Rome. The university where I studied and where I am still a member of the council, Trinty College, has organized a campus in Rome for the last 25 years. It’s a wonderful city and to be able to represent it worldwide through a business, and a passion as important as soccer is a great opportunity for me.”
In terms of the business aspects of the takeover: “we have our own ideas as well and we are committed to creating the best team possible, both on and off the pitch. We’ll bring together people capable of unearthing young talent and building a competitive team.
“It’s in our interest after all: only by being successful will we get a return on our investments. As I said, our aim is to turn Roma into one of the biggest clubs in the world, a team that the city can be proud of, but naturally that will take a bit of time.”
Concerns for Serie A
DiBenedetto also discussed Serie A’s current situation in Europe on Monday, as Italy recently lost a Champions League place to Germany, and the ways that he will tackle that problem with his new club. Additionally, he discussed the significance of football for the Italian economy, and the changes that need to be made immediately, in order to attract the world’s best once again.
“It’s depressing and worrying that the Italians have lost a Champions League place. I think the main problem is the lack of club-owned stadiums – comfortable, welcoming and set up to exploit other business opportunities. Football is so important for the Italian economy and culture that it often reflects the image of the country as a whole.
“It’s about time the government and the institutions did something practical to enable clubs to build new stadiums. That’s the only way to get back to winning in Europe, to attract the best players back to Italy.
“It’s just a shame that all those supporters don’t have an adequate stadium: the Olimpico simply just gratifies the Romanisiti’s passion – the stands are too far away from the pitch and the noise from the crowd is not the same at that distance. That’s another reason why a new stadium is a must, an English style stadium so that it benefits the players too.”
So with the official confirmation expected in the next 20 days, the future of the Giallorossi looks bright. Having been linked to a number of high-profile players over the past few weeks as well, fans can begin to get a little excited at the prospect of posing a serious threat for next season’s Scudetto. Gianluigi Buffon has been touted as a potential addition to the squad, and could be the new owner’s first target in the upcoming transfer window. Chelsea’s Jose Bosingwa and Benfica’s Luisao are being looked at as additional cover in defence, whilst Barcelona’s out of favour holding midfielder Javier Mascherano, could fit in well alongside Daniele De Rossi and David Pizarro in the centre of midfield. The attacking ranks of Roma have certainly come under scrutiny in recent times, however with a trio of Serie A’s hottest young talents linked to the club recently, in Edinson Cavani, Alexis Sanchez and Javier Pastore, Roma fans can afford to dream big!
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