Video: Parma, back from the brink – how the fallen giants are rising from the ashes



During their glory years, Parma's honours included three Coppa Italias, two UEFA Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup and a serious title assault they narrowly fell short of achieving behind Juventus in 1997. But the collapse of local dairy giant Parmalat – the club's former fraudulent owners – 12 years ago left Parma on the verge of collapse in 2004, declared insolvent and specially controlled for three years by administrators.

After recovering, the club looked to be returning to stability... but then came Tommaso Ghirardi. The businessman bought the club for around €30 million in January 2007 but spectacularly mismanaged his new side, building up whopping debts to the tune of around €200m. 

When the squad stopped receiving their wages, the story became a national scandal. Before Ghirardi walked away, Parma were refused a licence to play in Europe (having finished sixth, their best finish since 2004) due to unpaid taxes on the staggering number of players they'd sent out on loan.

In March 2015, it was announced that Ghirardi and sporting director Pietro Leonardi were being investigated for fraudulent bankruptcy. The club was twice sold for just €1, with the new owners in each case promising to pay off the debts and invest in the club.

Ghirardi sold to Russian-Cypriot group Dastraso Holdings, headed by Rezart Taci, in December 2014. But, sensing the rot, Taci and partner Emir Kodra sold to another businessman, Giampietro Manenti, for €1.

Eventually, Parma were declared bankrupt and relegated to Serie D – the highest level of amateur football, three rungs away from a return to Serie A. Captain Alessandro Lucarelli, now 37, stayed with the club.

A new club has now been formed, Parma Calcio 1913, and is currently crowdfunding in the hope that one day they will see the club returned to its former glories. This is their fascinating story, as told by Copa 90...

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