May 19, 2022

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Catania and Grassani to ISP: “No room for adventurers, old partners and administrators because…”

Sports law expert spoke to Itasportpress about the Catania case

ITASportPress Editorial Team

In light of the extension of the temporary exercise from February 28 to March 7 for a second and final attempt to sell Calcio Catania Spa, which declared bankruptcy in December 2021, scheduled for March 4, the Itasportpress.it editorial board requested the attorney Mattia GrassaniAn expert in sports law also in the international field, what are the possible scenarios.

Avv. Grassani, all as expected with the second auction. Does this make you think that there are ongoing discussions with one or more investors?

I would say everything as expected, in the sense that the sports title, which in fact dissolves in the event of a temporary interruption of exercise, represents the main asset of the failing company, together with the Torre del Grifo Sports Center, are the only ones worthy of an economic assessment. It can really be appreciated that it can determine an increase in bankruptcy assets that will be allocated to creditors. It follows that obtaining an extension of the temporary exercise – getting the money back to support it – until the designation of the sports company should represent, at least for the time being, the primary objective of the trustee, both to save football in Catania and to plant hopes of a profit to be distributed to creditors. At the same time, such a circumstance indicates that some interested parties have come forward.

Reducing the auction base on the one hand encourages the interest of potential buyers, and on the other hand also allows less organized entrepreneurs to participate. In this aspect, however, the access requirements envisioned by FIGC in Art. 52, paragraph 3, of the NOIF, on the question of taking over the sports company after bankruptcy and art. 20bis NOIF, when acquiring shares of more than 10% of a professional club, makes it possible to reduce the risk of awarding the sports company to adventurers. The above is also in light of the fact that, in order for FIGC to be accepted into Serie C 2022-2023, it will also be necessary to pay off all sports debts.

Before bankruptcy, everyone who wanted to buy Etna and also the Torre del Grifo sports center had to cover a pit of more than 54 million. Why do you think no one has actually come forward yet after this mountain of debt has been reduced to a handful of millions?

Hard to say, I certainly wasn’t expecting that. The economic downturn caused by the health emergency has clearly dissuaded many entrepreneurs from investing in football: Indoor stadiums, cold crowds, runaway sponsors, and rising costs present, ambitiously and capable of large numbers like Catania, important obstacles to the investor. Certainly, in evaluating the sports company, we are far below the numbers traded in the past, even with the least significant squares noted.

As I said earlier, FIFA has, for several years now, created much tougher barriers to entry for new players into the sports system. For example, the last paragraph of Art. 52, paragraph 3, NOIF, in connection with the acquisition of the sports title after bankruptcy, states that, for federal approval, the shareholders and directors of the new club must not have, in the past five years, occupied the role of shareholder, director and/or executive who has With powers of representation in the federal sphere, in companies subject to measures of exclusion from the championship of jurisdiction or cancellation of affiliation by the Federal Football Association’. The answer to your question lies in this regulatory passage, which will certainly be interpreted in the very strict sense by the International Federation of Côte d’Ivoire.