One thing that Italian football has become synonymous with over the years is bankruptcy.
From Chievo Verona in 2021 to football hipsters’ favourite clubs, Venezia, Parma and Napoli, all have fallen foul of financial mismanagement in the past 20 years.
Further down the leagues, another bankrupt club has found new ownership with an Australian group that has ties with the A-League.
In the beautiful region of Sicily, Calcio Catania have fallen all the way down to Serie C after being in the Italian top flight in 2006-14.
They were coached by a very young Diego Simeone and had well-known players like Papu Gomez on their books.
In 2021-22 Catania were expelled from the Serie C season due to bankruptcy and have been on the market to be sold ever since, with several groups showing interest but never able to get a deal over the line.
Earlier this week it was announced the club had finally been bought by the Melbourne-based Pelligra group.
It has long been rumoured that Ross Pelligra is trying to establish a South Australian sporting group under the one banner.
The Adelaide Giants baseball team and Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL are already under the group’s control, while the grounds and training centres of Netball South Australia and the Adelaide 36ers NBL side will also be redeveloped by the group in works that could see the netball and men’s basketball teams fall under Pelligra ownership.
Calcio Catania is not the group’s first dealing with Australian football sides though.
They were financial backers of South Melbourne FC and are the owners-in-waiting for the A-League’s Adelaide United.
While the deal for United will be formally announced upon completion of the current financial year, the takeover of Calcio Catania opens up some intriguing propositions not just for Adelaide United but for football in Australia.
Calcio Catania and Adelaide United could develop a mutually beneficial sister club partnership involving talent exchanged between the sides. This could see young Australian players given a chance to enter the lucrative European market.
That might seem like a pipeline dream right now, while Catania try and work their way up from Serie D in their pursuit of getting back to being a Serie A club.
Ross Pelligra has been installed as chairman of Calcio Catania and has spent the past week in Sicily, where he has met with members of the Catania ultras as well as high-ranking city officials to outline what exactly the Pelligra group will bring to the club and region.
Pelligra’s Sicilian roots and the company’s exciting plans for the club’s near future seem to have reinvigorated locals after the turmoil that has engulfed the troubled side in recent times.
The purchases of Adelaide United and Calcio Catania, have shown that the Pelligra group can make just as big a splash in the football world as well as the property world.
While both look like big gambles given the underperformance of each club respectively, it would come as no surprise to see both become very successful.