Enduring arguably their worst Serie A campaign in their history in 2022/23, Sampdoria are experiencing problems on and off the football pitch, and the issues look no closer to being resolved.
Currently sitting 19th in the Serie A table, the Blucerchiati have hardly won all season and are even struggling to find goals, leaving their supporters suffering more than anyone else this season. As well, in Serie A Femminile, Sampdoria are winless since three victories to open the season and have sunk to bottom of the table, at real risk of relegation there too.
Sampdoria suffered another defeat on Matchday 23, losing 2-1 to Bologna on Saturday evening with Abdelhamid Sabiri missing a penalty that could have given Samp the lead as well as the three points.
However, inevitable relegation from Serie A is perhaps the least of the worries of Blucerchiati fans as the club could face the possibility of going bankrupt.
Ferrero stubbornly refuses to sell Sampdoria
Although Massimo Ferrero was forced to step down as Sampdoria president in December 2021 for alleged fraudulent bankruptcy, the 71-year-old film producer remains the owner of the Ligurian team, and he has repeatedly knocked back offers to sell the club for years.
Back in 2019, the late Gianluca Vialli and American fund York Capital Management attempted to acquire the Blucerchiati from Ferrero, but a figure to purchase the club could not be agreed upon. There have also been other parties that have attempted to negotiate with Ferrero only to fail to get things over the line.
In the last few months, another Italian film producer Francesco Di Silvio was interested in buying the club and reportedly had connections to a Qatari royal family member who would have funded the acquisition, but no concrete offer was made.
Alessandro Barnaba, founder of Merlyn Partners SCSp which owns French club Lille, was also interested in the procurement of Sampdoria, but Ferrero refused to listen to any offers, much to the ire of Samp current president Marco Lanna and the board of directors.
When Ferrero bought the Blucerchiati from Edoardo Garrone in June 2014, all he had to do was pay the club debt of €15 million, but Samp now have debts of over €150 million, and Garrone, as well as Ferrero, has received death threats.
Sampdoria’s problems paying salaries to players and staff
Wages for the month of December have been sacrificed by the players and coaching staff, allowing Sampdoria to avoid a point reduction for the time being. Ferrero will now have to find the money to cover €11 million in wages for January to March 2023 before May 16, or the Blucerchiati face a points penalty.
The 71-year-old told Il Giornale in early February, “today, Sampdoria is the bargain of a lifetime for the buyer. €40 million and he gets the club.” Considering how stubborn the Rome native has been and the debt Samp are in, this scenario looks unlikely.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Samp need €35-50 million in capital to keep the club afloat otherwise the club will go bankrupt.
Sampierdaranese and Andrea Doria merged to form Sampdoria to keep part of their respective histories alive and create a thriving club in the aftermath of World War II, but 77 years later, the Genoese side might be gone.
What happens to Sampdoria if they go bankrupt?
The Blucerchiati would lose their sporting title as well as the trophies they have won, and it will likely result in starting again in Serie D. They would not be the first Serie A champions to have gone bankrupt, as Bologna suffered that fate in 1993 while Fiorentina and Napoli had to fold and reform in the 2000s.
It would be painful to see an iconic club with a loyal fanbase start again in Italy’s lower division. However, one silver lining would be a Sampdoria without the eccentric Ferrero.