Exclusive: New Parma owner promises exciting football in long-term project


  • Football
  • Friday, 18 Sep 2020

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Parma v Inter Milan - Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma, Italy - June 28, 2020 General view inside the stadium before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

(Reuters) - Patience is a virtue not often associated with Serie A clubs, among officials or supporters, but the new U.S. owners of Parma believe they and the team's fans have enough of it to build a bright long-term future.

Kyle Krause, chief executive of the Krause Group which completed the takeover on Friday, told Reuters he wanted Parma to develop young players and give fans a team that is "fun to watch, exciting on the field" -- even if it won't happen overnight.

Patience will also be needed to get around Italy's unyielding bureaucracy and renovate the Stadio Tardini.

"I understand we are not going to be Juventus by January," Krause said in his first interview with a non-Italian media organisation as Parma owner and president.

"I see some presidents in Italian football, (and) around the world, become impatient fairly quickly and I think that can be unfortunate for the entire staff," he said.

"So I view this as a long-term investment, a long-term passion. For me, owning Parma is not about a near-term success."

Parma are the latest Serie A club to come under North American ownership, following AC Milan, Fiorentina, Bologna and AS Roma.

The takeover was the latest twist in the topsy-turvy history of the club who enjoyed a golden period during the 1990s - claiming two UEFA Cups, the 1993 European Cup Winners' Cup and three Italian Cups -- but were relegated to the fourth tier after going bankrupt in 2015.

Remarkably, they won three straight promotions and returned to Serie A in 2018 and they have since finished 14th and 11th.

"You don't have to go that far back where people know Parma around the world and that history can give us something to aspire to," Krause said.

Krause wants the club to focus on young players.

"We see the development of players as a big part of what we do. We have got an excellent academy from an infrastructure standpoint, and the opportunity for us to grow and develop talent and have them play in the first team has to be priority one," he said.

"Some other Serie A teams have huge rosters, they bring in talent and loan out talent which is fine... but we are going to bring in talent and have them play for us."

RED TAPE

Modernising the 27,000 Stadio Tardini is also among the plans even if other clubs have struggled to cut through the red tape.

"I think we can overcome these obstacles," said Krause. "I think if you look at Italian government's standpoint, they have recently changed the law making it easier for stadium development."

European football can be tough for mid-sized clubs such as Parma, who tend to see their top players picked off by bigger rivals.

Atalanta, who have qualified for the Champions League twice in a row, and Sassuolo are rare exceptions.

"The Atalanta model is fantastic, you look at what they done and you have to respect the success," Krause said. "You have to look at that and say 'wow', how did they do they that?"

But Parma's immediate priority is to stay in Serie A.

"To be able to play in Europe would be in fantastic but that is not something we are going to achieve in one or two years," Krause said.

"Clubs of our size can be successful. There is a natural advantage that the largest clubs have in Serie A, from inherent fan base to team revenue distributions, but for us this is a generational type thing."

"Do I think we can get there eventually? The answer is yes."

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)

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