The Chinese Connection

Zamparini China

Has a Chinese connection stepped forward to purchase Palermo?

After initial rumors regarding the Italian-American Viola family and the acquisition of Palermo were quelled, reports continued to emerge claiming an interest from another American consortium as well as one in China. While there has been nothing more than a claim by Zamparini of this other American group, the Chinese have seemingly stepped forward.

The Chinese connection to a Serie A outfit is nothing new in Italy but reflects a general trend. Chinese interests in Serie A have become constant with many other clubs including the likes of Inter and Milan being linked to potential takeovers. In fact, some say that the Chinese government itself has urged groups to purchase mid-to-upper tier clubs in Italy as part of its efforts in investing in European football.

Over the past two weeks, a link between Palermo and China has gotten stronger. Zamparini commented last week about a group from China’s willingness to advance talks past the exploratory phase. In fact, the front page of Saturday’s edition of Corriere dello Sport ran with a headline regarding Palermo and the Chinese connection: “Palermo – China, Now It Can Be Done”. Details regarding the sale were laid out in the article.

Essentially, the Chinese group has already okayed the price for the club (anywhere from 50 to 70 million euro). Now, the transition of the club from Zamparini to the Chinese needs to be discussed. According to the Corriere dello Sport, the first year would see Chinese ownership of Palermo at 70% while Zamparini maintains a 30% stake. Zamparini would also stay on as president for the upcoming season in order to ensure a smooth transition. After a year, Zamparini would leave the club completely, with the Chinese securing full ownership in the Sicilian club.

Another interesting note regards the new stadium. The Chinese have asked Zamparini for a realistic projection of whether or not Palermo can build a new stadium. Zamparini has wanted to build for years, but bureaucratic red tape has killed any progress. On Friday, Palermo Mayor Orlando spoke of an absolute willingness to discuss building the Velodrome (the name of the new Palermo stadium). It is another sign that the Chinese are serious in their pursuit of the biggest club in Sicily.

As time moves on, more details will undoubtedly be revealed. Of course, there is always the possibility that any prospective deal falls through; yet, Palermo have never been closer to a sale than what has transpired already this summer.

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