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Fiorentina lined up for US takeover

ACF Fiorentina has confirmed talks are taking place over a takeover deal that is expected to see US billionaire Rocco Commisso take control of the Italian Serie A football club.

Following reports over a possible takeover last week, Fiorentina confirmed after a board of directors meeting held on Saturday that a process is currently underway aimed at the sale of the club from current owners the Delle Valle family.

The Delle Valle family acquired the club in 2002, saving the Florence-based outfit from bankruptcy. Commisso, chairman of Mediacom and owner of New York Cosmos of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), has previously attempted to gain control of a Serie A team.

Commisso last year made an offer to acquire a controlling stake in AC Milan, but no deal followed. He made the offer after withdrawing a proposed $500m (€447.3m) investment in US Soccer due to “conflicted board members”.

The Cosmos’ owner has been a critic of US Soccer and a driving force behind the NASL’s current antitrust litigation against the governing body in the United States.

Fiorentina narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the 2018-19 Serie A season. The club is outside Deloitte’s Top 30 richest outfits and trails other Serie A teams in the revenue stakes. However, Fiorentina did post a profit of €35.5m ($39.7m) for last season, with record revenues in part due to player sales.

Fiorentina started the season with almost an entirely new squad, having sold the likes of Federico Bernardeschi, Nikola Kalinic and Borja Valero. That had a positive effect on the balance sheet, with the Tuscan club posting a profit of €35,573,227 up to December 31, 2017.

That marked a huge turnaround from the €2,736,769 in the previous financial year and was helped by record revenue of €184,779,269, an increase of 36.4 per cent.

Speaking following Saturday’s meeting, Fiorentina board member Paolo Panerai admitted that Commisso has an offer on the table, but added there could also be other proposals under consideration. “The suitor is negotiating,” Panerai said, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica. “It is not the board that expresses the will to sell, the shareholders express it.”

Panerai added: “It is not said that the fans should expect something better than that given by a family that invested €300m in this club, claimed nothing, and has received for some time only insults.”