Serie C side Catania are on the verge of bankruptcy after telling their top 10 stars to find another club over the Christmas holidays.
They are currently seventh in the Lega Pro Girone C table, but might not be able to reach the end of this season.
Over Christmas, the 10 top-earning players in the squad were reportedly sent a letter warning the money had run out and they needed to find themselves another club.
They’d even be released from their contracts as free agents to avoid paying the outstanding wages.
As for the remaining players, they have been urged to take a pay cut or move on, reports La Sicilia, La Gazzetta dello Sport and the Corriere dello Sport, among others.
The development came as no surprise to former Catania director of sport Pietro Lo Monaco, who had resigned last month after he was physically attacked by ultras on a ferry.
“Catania have been living with an incredible debt situation for three years now,” Lo Monaco told Radio Sportiva today.
“This season, the squad was on paper competitive, but we are no longer able to sustain the costs, as for example our income from ticket sales has dropped from €50,000 to just €7,000 per game.
“Despite all this, Catania kept up payments for three years and the club was never docked points for financial irregularities. Now, if some players do not agree to leave in January, it could put the club in jeopardy.
“The letter is not forcing anyone out, but it is only fair for the club to be clear on the situation. As for selling up, the only one who came anywhere close to making a bid was Follieri, the rest was all idle chatter.
“I hope there can be a solution, because after three years of hard work, it’d be a shame to lose everything.”
Catania have 17 Serie A campaigns under their belts, finishing eighth in 1961, 63, 65 and again in 2013, while they reached the Coppa Italia semi-final in 2007-08.
After positive spells with coaches such as Sinisa Mihajlovic, Diego Simeone and Vincenzo Montella, it has been a rapid decline since their relegation from Serie A in 2014.
The Sicilian side already went bankrupt in 1993, then were demoted from Serie B to Serie C for a match-fixing scandal in 2015.