Local investors take control of Parma back from China’s struggling Desports

October 25 – The group that re-founded Parma after the Italian club’s bankruptcy in 2015 and started again in Serie D under the banner ‘Nuovo Inizio’ (New Beginning) have re-taken a majority shareholding, wresting control from Chinese investors Desports.

Desports Group bought a controlling stake as Parma rose back up the divisions but the club have now announced another u-turn at board level, with a consortium of local businessmen and investors taking over.

“This morning Nuovo Inizio completed the necessary practicalities to take back 60% of Parma,” a statement said. “30% will remain with (Desports President) Jiang Lizhang.”

Lizhang is reported to leaving as president of the club with a replacement soon to be elected.  The remaining 10% of the shares are to be owned by Parma Partecipazioni Calcistiche, a group representing supporters.

Parma’s golden period was in the 1990s, when they won two UEFA Cup trophies, a Cup winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup.

Marco Ferrari, one of the leaders of Nuovo Inizio, was quoted as saying in Italian press reports: “A year ago we were sure we had identified the right people when we gave control… to Jiang Lizhang, who was backed by a global company anchored in the world of sport and which, initially, gave a strong indication of its commitment.”

Ferrari said the turning point was a “change in the political tide in Beijing in relation to Chinese investment in foreign football clubs”.

“After these initial promises, we have unfortunately been faced with a different scenario. We’ve noticed increasing difficulties on the part of the Chinese shareholders to deliver on a number of the obligations which a sector so strictly controlled as Italian football imposes on clubs, and therefore the majority shareholders.”

“As a result Nuovo Inizio have decided to return as majority shareholders, as provided for in the original contract. We granted numerous opportunities and extensions with respect to the original agreements, but in the end we had to take note of a situation that could not be further delayed.”

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