Sampdoria was among Europe’s elite a little over 30 years ago.
Gianluca Mancini and Roberto Vialli inspired them to win a Serie A and Cup Winners’ Cup title, but they lost a European Cup Final at Wembley against Barcelona.
After relegation from Italy’s top tier to its second division last year, and Andrea Pirlo serving as the manager, I Blucerchiati are now closer to another consecutive drop rather than returning to their former glory.
Can new owners Andrea Radrizzani, formerly from Leeds United, and Matteo Manfredi bring Sampdoria to its glory days?
During their last Serie A match at home in May, a banner read ‘From Hell we will return.’ It’s been an eventful few years. Bullet cases and a severed head of pig were sent to the previous owner.
One euro for a club
Sampdoria will never forget the 2022-23 campaign. After the death of Vialli, a club legend aged 58 years old, Sampdoria was relegated after eleven seasons in top flight.
Last summer they were on the verge of going bankrupt, and that would have led to them dropping down into the Fourth Tier. The club was just days away from quitting professional football. Where did all the trouble begin?
Let’s start with a brief history lesson.
Until 2000, the Mantovanis family, oil magnates, owned the Sampd’Oro (the ‘golden squad’), which won the Coppa italia four times and an Italian Supercup once in the 80s and 90s.
The club was bought by Riccardo Garciano, an oil magnate from Genoa, who is a descendant of the richest family in Italy, two years later. In January 2013, after his death, the club was handed over to Edoardo.
Sampdoria began its decline on June 12, 2014, when Edoardo sold it to Massimo Ferrero for a symbolic price of 1 euro. He also gave him 65m Euro to guarantee business continuity.
It remains unclear why one of country’s richest families gave away the football club, paying further to an unqualified businessman who has no previous experience of playing the game and no assets of his own.
Ferrero was Garrone’s puppet at the time. He had been assigned to manage the club only for a short period. Ferrero, who had no personal wealth to speak of, based his business plan solely on the transfer market.
Player sales kept the club alive. Lucas Torreira was sold to Arsenal at a cost of almost 30 million euros. This represents a gain of about 27m. Patrik Schick moved to Roma for 42m euros and Milan Skriniar to Inter Milan for 34m Euros.
In 2019, a group led by Vialli, who offered 85-90 million euros for a takeover of the club but failed to do so.
The freefall to bankruptcy
Pandemic: No transfer market, zero profits and no opportunity to manage the club. Ferrero was arrested on 6th December 2021, for fraudulent bankruptcy in connection with activities that were not related to football. He transferred his shares into a trust for the family, which maintained de facto control of the club.
In the 18 months that followed, Ferrero was released from prison, but was banned from playing any role in football.
The club’s Ultras delayed matches by throwing flares onto the field. Bullet cases were also sent to Ferrero, Garrone, and Sampdoria. A severed head of a pig arrived at the Sampdoria headquarters.
Silvio Regis has been a lifelong football fan and season ticket holder in the club since 1985. We accepted the relegation of last summer but would not have allowed bankruptcy. Ferrero, and Garrone were equally to blame. “
Last-minute calls to save the Club
Radrizzani ( , the former owner of Leeds United) and Manfredi (founder and CEO of Gestio Capital Asset Management Fund), saved the club from extinction at the end of May.
They convinced Ferrero that he should give up his club, and then invested the money in order to settle all the outstanding bills. This opened the doors to other investors.
Radrizzani & Manfredi named Pirlo manager, and they dreamed about restoring the former glory of the club. Reality bit.
After relegation, the club required a brand new team. The club also needed a new technical and executive staff. They were also given a penalty of two points for violations committed by Ferrero.
The Sampdoria squad includes more than half young players born in this century. They are joined by older, experienced players like Fabio Borini who was a Pirlo favorite and played with him at Karagumruk, Turkey.
Borini’s goal against Cosenza, and Palermo gave them two crucial home victories. They are now one point clear of the relegation zone.
Borini said, “The group has grown and is integrating more each day. We believe in ourselves.” It’s true that we did not start off well but we still have plenty of season to work towards promotion. “
Sampdoria needs to achieve good results not only for its league standing, but also in order to attract more investment.
Fans have always been there to support their team. On Saturday, four thousand people travelled to Modena to watch their team secure three points in the Stadio Bragia.
Now they are six points short of a playoff spot. Sampdoria may have some hope but they need to do more.