Another summer and another bankruptcy – the high-profile demise of Parma follows a year on from Siena’s money crisis which saw the Tuscans drop down into Serie D. Those clubs may take inspiration from Carpi, an outfit whose collapse saw them reform in 2000 and 15 years on achieve their first promotion to Serie A.
Originally founded in 1909, the Biancorossi’s first 91 years of existence were relatively mundane. A brief spell in the Italian Football Championship (the top tier prior to Serie A’s formation) between 1919 and 1922 was the only highlight of a period when the norm was floating between the third and fourth levels of Italian football.
Calcio Carpi were formed in the aftermath of the initial bankruptcy in 2000, and two years later they won promotion to Serie D from the non-professional category of Eccellenza Emilia–Romagna. They subsequently merged with Dorando Pietri Carpi, the town’s second team, with the club rebranded as Carpi FC 1909.
Carpi itself only houses 70,000 people and its sporting ambitions are modest, so it comes as no surprise that four promotions in six years to catapult the rejuvenated club up to Italy’s top flight has left locals reeling. This is reflected in their Stadio Sandro Cabassi home, whose capacity doesn’t even reach 4,500, not being passed fit to stage Serie A games. Instead they will play in Modena’s Stadio Alberto Braglia, which lies 20km south.
Their old home has perhaps reflected the club’s outlook. They only mustered an average attendance of 3,020 last season despite arguably possessing the finest side in their history. That following ranked 18th of Serie B’s 22 clubs, and their financial position also defies the fact that they have stormed through the divisions in recent years with such apparent ease.
Not everyone is revelling in Carpi’s meteoric rise. A recent leaked phone conversation involving Lazio President Claudio Lotito claimed that their place in the top flight would damage the division’s television deals and marketing capacity.
However, despite regional giants Bologna securing promotion via the play-offs, the real story of the campaign is the Biancorossi.
Carpi’s 22-year-old Nigerian striker Jerry Mbakogu netted 15 goals and, alongside fellow promising attackers Kevin Lasagna and Roberto Inglese, they should be able to give Serie A defences a headache next season.
Gabriel, capped by Brazil and on loan from AC Milan, was a formidable presence in goal and set a new all-time Serie B record of 23 clean sheets in a single season. Attacking midfielder Antonio Di Gaudio is in his sixth term at the club, taking them all the way to the top flight.
In recent years it has been Carpi’s regional rivals Sassuolo who have upset the applecart in the top flight, humbling more illustrious opposition as they made a name for themselves. The Neroverdi are the perfect trendsetter for Carpi to aspire to, and Serie A might just have another cat set amongst the pigeons. After all, they have nothing to lose.