Roma set for sale in proposed bank deal

ROME - Serie A side AS Roma will be put up for sale as part of a proposed deal between the club's owners and creditor bank UniCredit to wipe out debts.

"The primary objective (will be) to go ahead with the valuation and the sale ... of the AS Roma shareholding," club owner Italpetroli said in a statement.

Roma, who finished second in the Italian top flight last season and were runners-up in the Italian Cup, have been the subject of continual takeover talk with owners Italpetroli struggling to deal with the arrears.

Rosella Sensi, of the family who have majority control of Italpetroli, will continue to run AS Roma while the hunt goes on for a buyer, the statement said.

"This deal has been reached ... above all to safeguard AS Roma, which is something that matters to (Rome) and which we all hold very dear," Rosella Sensi said, according to ANSA news agency.

Italpetroli and UniCredit will hammer out a more detailed agreement to sort out debts by July 20.

Creditors have been trying to force a sale of AS Roma for three years but bids from billionaire financier George Soros and a Swiss consortium never came to fruition and Italpetroli clung on against the odds.

A lack of spending power in the transfer market hit the team's prospects in the 2008/09 campaign and Roma could only finish sixth that season, although they spectacularly bounced back to form last term despite reining in costs.

Rosella Sensi took over as Roma president from her late father Franco in 2008 and has held out to carry on heading the club she loves.

Her side almost rewarded her in May but just failed to snatch the Italian title off Inter Milan after coach Claudio Ranieri performed a near miracle having taken over from Luciano Spalletti with the team in crisis just two games in.

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There have been months of talks with UniCredit, which is owed 325 million euros by the Sensi family as the main creditor and several sniffs at a purchase have evaporated.

Soros and the Swiss consortium have not shown renewed interest while Italian pharmaceutical magnate Francesco Angelini has never put forward concrete plans for a bid after saying he wanted to buy a majority stake in the club.

The period of uncertainty is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the club, who are expected to be quiet in the transfer market and have already made their big close-season signing.

Former Inter striker Adriano is that showcase new buy, although the controversial Brazilian did not make a good start by arriving almost two days late for his first day because of bureaucratic problems with his son.

Adriano has battled drink and personal problems in the past.

Roma face Inter in the Italian Super Cup on August 21 in Milan before the Serie A season starts on August 28.

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