Tuesday February 5 2019
Palermo takeover in chaos

Palermo defender Giuseppe Bellusci was in tears after the British takeover from Maurizio Zamparini descended into chaos. “We don’t know who we’re dealing with and have no guarantees.”

The former Leeds United player went to the Press room after a 0-0 home draw with Foggia, which saw them lose the Serie B leadership.

“We were jeered by our own fans in a moment in which we don’t know who we are dealing with and are fragile over the whole issue of the club ownership.

“We have no guarantees of any kind, we are on our own. (Director Rino) Foschi and (Coach Roberto) Stellone are trying to protect us from everyone.

“We have to wait for February 15 to see what happens, but I am not interested in my salary. What I want to know is who we are, what our prospects are.

“If there is a problem, I will go home, but I want to win the Serie B title to get back into Serie A. We must stay united and I want 40,000 fans in the stadium to reach Serie A.”

Director of sport Rino Foschi declared on transfer deadline day that he had no idea about players the club had signed without his knowledge, was reportedly fired by CEO Emanuele Facile, but then restored to his role.

Everyone is waiting for February 16, as that is the deadline for the November and December salaries to be paid.

The situation is, much like the Parma takeover that preceded bankruptcy in 2015, shrouded in mystery, confusion and conflicting reports.

Maurizio Zamparini sold Palermo to a British group, Sport Capital Investments Ltd, in December 2018.

On January 25, Zamparini was placed under house arrest when accused of false accounting and money laundering.

This is all due to the creative accounting practice that saw Zamparini create a company – Mepal – to own the Palermo brand, which was then sold to a Luxembourg company called Alyssa for €1m in 2017.

Alyssa, it seems, was also owned by Zamparini and the accusation is that he created a €1m boost to the club coffers by using his own money to artificially inflate the value of the ‘brand’ and bypass the Italian financial fair play rules.

Without that extra boost, Palermo would effectively have gone bankrupt in 2017.

The chaos does not end there, as it continues with the current owners and concerns their financial guarantees will be rejected by the Italian authorities.

Financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, who so diligently covered the Yonghong Li confusion and eventual default at Milan, claimed on January 29 that the British owners might not be who they seem.

The paper pointed out that Sport Capital Group Investments have £15,000,100 capital in Palermo Football Club SpA, but that only £100 of that was ever actually deposited.

The other £15m is allegedly just a loan with not very clear terms from an investment fund set up in Malta called the Abalone Management Fund.

Palermo released a statement on the same day refuting the Sole 24 Ore report, calling them “absolutely without foundation.

“There is no mystery behind the acquisition and re-launch of Palermo Football Club. The activities of SCG are transparent and will be announced as appropriate on the Regulatory News Service of the London Stock Exchange and by its Press Relations team. 

“The ongoing operating activities are being implemented correctly by its management team and are in the best interests of the club.

“Sport Capital Group Plc fully supports its subsidiary to proceed legally against the authors of the damaging false information.”

Yet this was all before Bellusci’s outburst on February 4 about wondering if the players would get paid their wages, so the confusion clearly continues even within the team.