| Thursday, August 1, 2002 14:32 EST
Club may go out of business if funding isn't found
MILAN -- Former Italian champions Fiorentina
has been refused a place in Serie B for next season and is
Italian Football League president Adriano Galliani said the
only chance the city of Florence has of maintaining a presence
in professional football is if a new club is formed and is
granted a place in the third or fourth division.
"The old Fiorentina doesn't exist anymore and it is vital
that a new club is born to represent Florence," said Galliani.
Florence city council said on Thursday evening that it had
done exactly that and formed a club called Fiorentina 1926
Florentia with the city's mayor Leonardo Domenici as the first
But it remains to be seen if the new venture will gain
enough financial backing to stand any chance of being admitted
to the lower divisions.
Troubled Fiorentina, relegated from Serie A last season and
in administration, has reported debts of around 22 million
euros and the federal council of the Italian Football Federation
(FIGC) met on Thursday to discuss what level the team will be
allowed to play in next term.
A spokesman for Fiorentina, who was playing Champions
League football just three seasons ago, told Reuters that the
club had not been granted permission by the council to play in
the second division, Serie B, next season.
"We are not in Serie B, that is official. At the moment the
council is looking at hypotheses about us playing in Serie C,"
said the spokesman.
Three Serie C clubs face uncertain futures -- Anastasia,
Fasano and Lecco who were not registered for their leagues due
to their financial positions.
Fiorentina president Vittorio Cecchi Gori promised he would
find the necessary cash before Thursday's deadline but so far
there has been no sign of the capital injection needed to save
Galliani confirmed that Ternana, who finished 17th in Serie
B last season will have its relegation overturned and stay in
the second division in place of Fiorentina.
FIGC president Franco Carraro said he had asked the
federation to assess whether it is possible to leave the door
open for a new club.
"Today is a terrible today because a club with great
tradition, a real part of Italian football has not been able to
be signed up to the championship," said Carraro, "It is a defeat
for all of us.
"It would be a mistake to start laying blame at this moment
and I have asked the council to weigh up all the possibilities.
There is a reasonable possibility they could be included in
Serie C2 but it is less easy to imagine C1," he said.
The club has a number of international players, such as
Portugal's Nuno Gomes, Yugoslav Predrag Mijatovic and Italy
international Enrico Chiesa, who in normal circumstances could
have been sold to pay off the debt.
But, with many Italian clubs suffering from a shortage of
cash, the transfer market is quiet and the knowledge that the
players would be available on a free transfer should Fiorentina
go bust has also acted as a disincentive to potential buyers.
Last season's relegation was only the second time since
World War Two that the Florence club -- Italian champions in
1956 and 1969 -- has gone down to Serie B.
Just three seasons ago the club was playing in the
Champions League, beating the likes of Arsenal and Manchester
United while being coached by current Italy boss Giovanni
Trapattoni and led on the field by Argentine striker Gabriel
Film producer Cecchi Gori had to sell many of the club's top
players merely to compete in Serie A last season, with Italy
goalkeeper Francesco Toldo and Portugal midfielder Rui Costa
following Batistuta out of Florence.