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China's Jiang taking over resurgent Parma

China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-23 09:38

MILAN, Italy - Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang has agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in Italian side Parma, which has just been promoted to the second tier, the club said on Wednesday.

Parma also announced that legendary former Argentina forward Hernan Crespo, who played for the club from 1996-2000 and returned in 2010 to end his career, would become a vice-president.

Parma, twice winner of the UEFA Cup in the 1990s, was declared bankrupt two seasons ago after finishing last in Serie A and being demoted to the fourth tier, but has won two successive promotions since then.

Jiang already owns Spanish club Granada and has a five percent stake in the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves.

"I sincerely believe this new partner, surrounded by people who love Parma such as Hernan and supported by the current management, can open up unprecedented growth for our club and present a great opportunity outside football," said Parma director Marco Ferrari.

"It is right to be strongly linked to the values of the past, but in a changing world, you should not be too scared of new things."

Ferrari said the deal would be completed early next month.

Parma was promoted to Serie B last Saturday when it beat Alessandria 2-0 in the Lega Pro playoff final.

The club was relegated from Serie A in 2014-15 after a chaotic season during which it twice changed hands.

It was subsequently declared bankrupt and demoted to the fourth tier of Italian soccer after a group of local businessmen came forward to refinance the club.

At one point during its last Serie A season, Parma postponed two matches because it could not pay for stewards or security, while the players had to do their own laundry.

The northern Italian club also had property confiscated by bailiffs, including a bench used by then-coach Roberto Donadoni.

Parma enjoyed its heyday between 1992 and 2002, during which it featured great names on its roster such as Tomas Brolin, Gianfranco Zola, Faustino Asprilla, Dino Baggio and Crespo.

It lifted the UEFA Cup twice, in 1995 and 1999, the old European Cup Winners' Cup in 1993 and three Italian Cups, although it never won Serie A.

Reuters

(China Daily 06/23/2017 page23)

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