Writing on the wall for stricken Roma

Would anyone out there like to buy AS Roma? The Eternal City’s flagship team has a massive fan-base and in the right hands could be potential title winners.

It could be snapped up for a knockdown price of €200 million so; please contact your local branch of Unicredit Bank of Milan and no doubt they will be happy to listen to any offers.

In fact, they will do just about anything to offload what has become another Italian financial black-hole much in the way the once flag-carrying national airline Alitalia was.

The writing has been on the wall since Rosella Sensi took over from her late father Franco two years ago and more so without any Champions League football last season, running up a debt that has now reached over €400 million...

There is no doubt that over this period her heart ruled her head – and she could have walked away rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams by selling up: before the world financial meltdown Roma’s market value was well over €300 million.

Instead of which through the club’s controlling shareholder, Compagnia Italpetroli, she oversaw a rampant growth in debt where there could be only one winner – as anyone who has been in to hoc to a bank will testify.

Unicredit’s chief executive Alessandro Profumo – a well-known Inter fan who flew around 1,000 bank clients to the Champions League final in Madrid – finally ran out of patience but Sensi was hanging on by her well-manicured finger-nails late into Thursday evening.

After failing to reach an agreement where she would pocket a comforting €30 million, she turned to one of Silvio Berlusconi’s trusted aides Gianni Letta to intervene, but considering the way the country seems to have run into the ground by the present government that may not have been the smartest move.

However, as they say business is business and bowing to growing pressure Sensi accepted that her time was up otherwise a court of arbitration was sharpening the knives to crave up the club and cut out its heart. 

The likes of Juan, Mirko Vucinic and Philippe Mexes would have gone for give-away transfer fees although at least two out of three will have to be sold anyway and any new arrivals would be loan signings.

Although Sensi will hang around until a buyer is found, her last meaningful act was posing with a XXXL shirt alongside Adriano who by the looks of it will need three or months of boot-camp to get fit.

However, it has been an unforgettable seventeen years with the Sensi family in charge: a league title, second runners-up spots, five Italian Cup finals, and Italian Super Cup and the quarter-finals of the Champions League on two occasions.

Roma could yet fall into the hands of another financial institution; Banca di Roma director Giovanni Malagò.

However, there are obvious concerns that he may not possess sufficient financial clout to banish fears that the club would slip into the mire once more.

Italian clubs are in a mess financially anyway – and even Inter will have to sell before they delve back into the transfer market – but for the moment they have resisted the urge to sell the family jewels to a foreigner.

Roma may have to accept that a white knight is only going to ride out of the Urals or gallop across the sands of the Gulf region to save the day.

If that is the case then expect a few more big names to attract foreign investment as the Italian football market hits rock bottom.

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