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Football
American investors complete Roma takeover
Serie A side become first foreign-owned club in Italy as US businessman Thomas DiBenedetto signs on the dotted line.
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2011 18:59
Roma fans show their support for the new owner at Saturday's game against Palermo [AFP]

A group of American investors have signed a deal to take control of Italian top-flight club AS Roma.

The consortium, lead by US businessman Thomas DiBenedetto, ended years of speculation surrounding the club which will become the only Serie A side with foreign ownership.

"Good things don't come easy," DiBenedetto told a news conference at a law firm in Boston.

"I never felt that I would give up on the quest for this team."

Under the terms of the deal, DiBenedetto's group will pay around 100 million dollars for a 60 percent share of a new company that would own roughly two-thirds of the Serie A club.

Italian origins

"I am proud of my Italian origins and for this reason I will do big things," DiBenedetto said.

"I didn't expect so much attention. I knew of the great passion from the Romans and this has been one of the reasons for doing this. I share this passion. I never played, but my father played in the American Soccer League."

Unicredit last year became co-owner of the cash-strapped club and will have a share of the new ownership company.

The deal, which must be approved by financial regulators, makes three-time champions Roma the first Serie A club with a foreign majority owner.

DiBenedetto told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper earlier this month that his aim was to make Roma "one of the top teams in the world".

Roma, whose current star players include Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, are currently sixth in the Serie A, 15 points behind leaders AC Milan.

DiBenedetto told the newspaper he wanted to put the club on financially sound footing and also wanted "a club capable of winning the scudetto every year and to be finally competitive in the Champions League".

The businessman is no stranger to European football as a partner of New England Sports Ventures, who own the Boston Red Sox and last year bought English team Liverpool.

Roma lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the European Champions League last 16 last month and are sixth in Serie A, three points behind Udinese, having been runners-up last season.

Foreign investors had previously snubbed Serie A and instead were drawn to the more lucrative English Premier League where top stadiums are often full and merchandise sales significantly boost profits, unlike in Italy.

Liverpool, Manchester United, Aston Villa and Sunderland are all owned by Americans. 

Source:
Agencies
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