Serie A side Parma, who are dead last and a sure thing to be relegated, was declared bankrupt in Italian court today, according to The Guardian. While it looks like they will finish out the Serie A season—possibly with funding from the league or Italian soccer federation—there remains the possibility that the club will be dissolved, and all their remaining opponents credited with 3-0 victories.
Parma hasn't been in great financial shape for at least a decade—they entered into administration in 2003 and only clawed out in 2007—but their financial problems have been especially acute recently. They finished sixth last season and should've received a place in the Europa League, but were ruled ineligible because of overdue tax debt. In December they were docked a point for failing to pay wages on time, and in February tax authorities seized three of the club's vehicles to cover debt shortfalls. A game against Udinese was canceled because Parma was unable to pay stewards, and youth coach Hernan Crespo (who starred for the club in the late 1990s) has said they couldn't even afford water bottles. Needless to say, the players haven't been paid all season.
Parma's owner and president Giampietro Manenti had confidently stated that the team's debts would be paid off by the end of February. Not only did that obviously not happen, but Manenti and 21 others were arrested yesterday on charges of embezzlement and money-laundering. The amazing thing is that Manenti only bought the team a month ago, for a single Euro. It was the second time the team was sold for one Euro in the past three months.
Parma is the latest once proud European club to face massive financial difficulties, joining a list that includes Rangers, Valencia, Portsmouth, Leeds, and others. The best case scenario is that a set of rich investors swoops in, pays off Parma's debts, and stabilizes the team in Serie B. The much more likely scenario is that Parma is dissolved, and forced to start again at the bottom of the Italian soccer pyramid, similar to what happened to Rangers a few years back.
Photo via Marco Luzzani/Getty