S.P.A.L. 2013 stands for Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor (Sports, Art and Labour Society), first founded in Ferrara in 1907 by priest Pietro Acerbis, though it began its focus on football from 1913. The football club went bankrupt in 2005 and again in 2012, but this will be their first Serie A season in 49 years.
It is their 18th top flight campaign with Serie A as we know it, though Spal were regulars in the early years of Italian football in the 1920s. Their first ‘real’ top flight campaign was in 1951-52 and they remained stable contenders all the way through to 1964, albeit with some nervy moments. There was a desperate relegation play-off with Palermo in 1954 and their relegation a year later was wiped out because Udinese and Catania were demoted for match-fixing.
The most successful campaign in Spal’s history was 1959-60, earning a remarkable fifth-place finish behind only Juventus, Fiorentina, Milan and Inter. Several famous faces came through Spal, including Armando Picchi, Albertino Bigon, Edoardo Reja, Luigi Del Neri, Fabio Capello and Marco Nappi.
Their slide began in 1968, dropping two divisions in two years, eventually feeling the brunt of Serie C2 for the first time in 1989-90. A certain Massimiliano Allegri was their Coach in 2004-05, just before the club’s bankruptcy, and Spal went under again in 2012, forced to begin from Serie D.
S.P.A.L. 2013 was born following the merger with Giacomense and a new era began under the auspices of the Colombarini family. They earned a place in Lega Pro in 2014, then Coach Leonardo Semplici began the march towards the top tier with back-to-back promotions.
Their stadium is named after Paolo Mazza, who represented Spal as Coach in the 1930s and then as President for 30 years.