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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Sampdoria pondering Serie B before Milan trip

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 05:35 PM PDT

SS Lazio's Zarate (right) fights for the ball with Sampdoria's Accardi during their match at the Olympic stadium in Rome. — Reuters

MILAN, April 16 — Relegation-threatened Sampdoria finished fourth last term but a series of calamities have club bosses already talking about the prospect of playing in Serie B with the trip to leaders AC Milan coming at just the wrong time. 

The Genoa club wowed Italy by their exploits last season but this campaign has been miserable from the outset and could be about to have a very nasty end with the former European Cup finalists a point above the drop zone with six games remaining. 

Almost as soon as they had wrapped up fourth spot last May, coach Luigi Del Neri quit for the bright lights of Juventus and they then lost a Champions League qualifier to Werder Bremen. 

Top strike duo Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini left in January for AC and Inter Milan respectively after the former spectacularly fell out with owner Riccardo Garrone and the latter was sacrificed for money. 

Replacements such as on-loan Manchester United forward Federico Macheda have flopped and they have slid down the table. 

"The Garrone family will move forward with Samp even if we are relegated to Serie B," Edoardo Garrone, Riccardo's son, told reporters after attending a training session to galvanise the team. 

"We have no intention of quitting. We've been here in the beautiful moments and we will be here also in the dark ones. We are trying to give our utmost." 

A suspension to Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic might have given Samp a chance at the San Siro today (1845 GMT) but of late, Massimiliano Allegri's side have played better without the Swede, who made a great start to the season but has tired. 

Whether Cassano will play against his former side is unclear with Alexandre Pato and Robinho probably ahead of him in the pecking order as Milan try to maintain or extend their three-point lead over Napoli in their quest for a first scudetto since 2004. 

Napoli, last champions with Diego Maradona in the team in 1990, are keeping up the pace against all the odds and predictions and they host Udinese tomorrow (1845) at an apparently opportune moment. 

Udinese were unbeaten in 2011 before a 2-0 reverse at resurgent Lecce and last Saturday's 2-1 defeat by AS Roma pushed them out of the fourth Champions League qualifying spot now occupied by Lazio, who visit Catania tomorrow (1300). 

Champions Inter, five points behind Milan in third, travel to fourth-bottom Parma in need of a lift today (1845) following their Champions League quarter-final elimination by Schalke 04 on Wednesday. — Reuters

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US-led consortium seals deal to buy AS Roma

Posted: 15 Apr 2011 05:24 PM PDT

United States businessman Thomas Di Benedetto (right) and UniCredit vice-general director Paolo Fiorientino (left), at a news conference in Boston, Massachusetts. — Reuters pic

BOSTON, April 16 - A consortium led by United States businessman Thomas Di Benedetto said today that it has sealed a deal to buy control of Italian soccer club AS Roma, subject to regulatory approval. 

The announcement ends years of takeover speculation surrounding the indebted Italian club which is now poised to become the only Serie A side with foreign ownership, unlike the much courted English Premier League. 

The consortium, which bought a 67 per cent stake, is 60 per cent owned by Di Benedetto and 40 per cent owned by Italian bank UniCredit. 

It purchased the stake from Italpetroli, which controlled Roma. "Good things don't come easy," Di Benedetto said during a joint news conference with UniCredit vice-general director Paolo Fiorientino. 

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

Under Italian law, the consortium would need to make a public offer to purchase the remaining 33 per cent stake in the soccer club. 

Di Benedetto has been a partner of New England Sports Ventures which owns the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team and English Premier League side Liverpool. 

Cash-strapped Roma are now managed by former player Vincenzo Montella following coach Claudio Ranieri's resignation in February. 

The Italian club lost to Shakhtar Donetsk in the 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. - Reuters

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