Despite its reputation as a league on the downswing, Serie A is attracting serious attention from the American business community. Case in point, Gazetta dello Sport is reporting that American businessman Frank Cascio has flown to Palermo to buying the club.
Cascio, maybe best known for his real estate business and his friendship with Michael Jackson, flew to the city this week wearing a Palermo scarf. He then met with current club president Maurizio Zamparini and is will meet with him again next week at the Italian’s home in Venezia. Cascio is reportedly not the only suitor for the club, however, as an Asian buying group reportedly is also in the mix. The sale price is expected to be around €50m.
“Zamparini and his family are special people,” Cascio said according to football-italia.net. “We are in agreement and are going forward in the process. These are rapidly advancing talks, Zamparini knows where my heart is, so for both me and him it’s important to know the future of Palermo.”
If he buys the team, Cascio will join a small but growing number of American majority owners in Italian soccer. Roma has an American ownership group headed by Thomas DiBenedetto. Just a few weeks back, U.S. baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza finalized the purchase of third division A.C. Reggiana, after considering making a bid to own Parma a few years back.
Palermo, or more formally Unione Sportiva Citta di Palermo, is Sicily’s most successful soccer team. Although they have never won a scudetto, they are three-time Coppa Italia runners-up and have participated in European competitions, as recently as 2011-2012 in the Europa League. This past season, however, was a tough one for the Rosanero, as the team barely escaped relegation. During the season Palermo played under seven different managers including Giuseppe Iachini twice. Whoever the new owners are, they will have to boost a club with a history of developing great talent but has seen much of it depart in recent years.