Fiorentina – One Of Italy’s Most Glamorous Clubs
The recent history of Serie A’s Fiorentina is perhaps the most fascinating of any Italian club, encompassing the dramatic decline and rapid rebirth of one of the country’s best-loved clubs. At the time of writing, the club is among the leading pack in Serie A – cited by former Italy coach, Marcello Lippi, as a genuine candidate to win the scudetto – and they are top of a UEFA Cup group that includes Spain’s Villarreal. Things have not always gone so smoothly, however. Five years ago, the club was in its darkest hour. Being relegated to Serie B at the end of the 2001-02 season was galling enough for the fans, but in August 2002 the Italian FA ruled that Fiorentina should be kicked out of the league, which comprises the top two divisions. The club, owned at the time by media mogul Vittorio Cecchi Gori, had been unable to cover its EUR 22 million debts in time to enrol in the league. Shortly afterwards, a court in
Florence declared the club bankrupt. A new club, Florentia Viola, was created and began life in Serie C2, the fourth division. After just one season, the club was promoted to Serie C1. Then something happened that would change the club’s destiny for ever: businessman Diego Delia Valle, owner of several brands of luxury clothes, bought the club. The following year, exploiting Italy’s baffling rules on club ownership, he was also able to buy back the original club name and commercial marks.
The club then enjoyed what might be termed a stroke of luck, although not everyone would agree. In order to settle a series of legal actions brought by relegated clubs against the Italian FA, the association – on government instructions – expanded Serie 6 from 20 to 24 clubs, giving Fiorentina a berth in the division without having to compete in C1. The association cited the dub’s special “sporting history”.