Parma: From rags, to riches, to bankruptcy – Part 2

As a result of their second place finish, Parma earned their first qualification in the UEFA Champions League. After a 7-1 second round aggregate win on Widzew Lodz, Parma made the Champions League group stages, and was drawn in a group against Sparta Prague, Galatasaray and a Scala-led Borussia Dortmund. A further qualification was denied by Dortmund, as Parma suffered a 2-0 defeat on Westfalenstadion, and finished the group on second place, with 9 points. In Serie A, Parma only managed a 5th place finish, which led to the sacking of Ancelotti, and his replacement by Alberto Malesani.


Malesani’s first business was signing Fuser and Paolo Vanoli to back up the defence -consisting in Thuram, Sensini, Cannavaro and Buffon in goal-, and Juan Sebastian Veron from Sampdoria, who would go on to form a great attacking trio with Crespo and Chiesa; and with players such as Alain Boghossian and Baggio in the midfield, this side was dubbed “Il Grande Parma”. Despite a rather disappointing 4th place finish in Serie A, this was known to be Parma’s greatest season, bringing three trophies in one shot. First of all, Parma won their second UEFA Cup in a rather comfortable 3-0 win against French giants Olympique Marseille at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, with goals from Crespo, Vanoli and Chiesa. Three days later, Parma went on to win the Coppa Italia against Fiorentina, with a 1-1 draw on Ennio Tardini and a 2-2 tie on Artemio Franchi bringing the Gialoblu their second domestic cup. The run was completed by a triumph in the Italian Supercup against Milan. However, the sale of Veron, combined with an early Champions League elimination at the hands of Rangers and a fifth place finish which consigned Parma to UEFA Cup football, left Malesani’s seat shaken by the end of the 1999-2000 season. Crespo’s sale to Lazio, a UEFA Cup elimination to Werder Bremen in the fourth round, and struggles with form in Serie A, led to the sacking of Malesani, and the brief return of Sacchi in January 2001, before the latter retired due to poor health.


Parma finished said season on 4th place, but suffered yet another early Champions League exit to Lille. The emerging financial problems led to the sale of Buffon and Thuram to Juventus, as this left Parma significantly weakened and with poor performances in Serie A in the first half of the championship, with assistant coach Pietro Carmignani promoted to manager on a temporary basis. After suffering a rather surprising elimination against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup, Parma finished 10th place in Serie A, but went on to win their third Coppa Italia against Juventus on away goals. In May 2002, Cesare Prandelli took over, and introduced a 4–3–3 attacking formation, with Adrian Mutu, Adriano and Hidetoshi Nakata making a great attacking trio. However, the following season began with Mutu’s sale to Chelsea, Adriano’s injury and Parmalat’s financial meltdown, which resulted in president Calisto Tanzi’s arrest for money laundering and the club’s lost financial backing, but Parma managed yet another shocking 5th place finish at the end of the 2003-04 season.


In the summer of 2004, the club changed its name from Parma A.C. to Parma F.C., as a result of their financial colapse. Despite a disastrous Serie A campaign, which saw the Gialoblu on the brink of relegation, barely avoided after a relegation tie-breaker with rivals Bologna, Parma reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals, being eliminated by eventual winners CSKA Moscow. With state-owned management, Parma spend the following years in mid-table and with its best players being sold. The 2005-06 season saw Parma finish 10th, but the Calciopoli scandal saw their official position changed to 7th, thus qualifying them for the UEFA Cup once again, and reaching the round of 32, where they were eliminated by Braga. In the meantime, as Tommaso Ghirardi became the new owner, Parma successfully avoided relegation under Claudio Ranieri. However, Parma finally relegated in 2008, after 18 consecutive years in top flight.


Parma eventually promoted back in 2009, and was successful in avoiding relegation the following years. Furthermore, with Hernan Crespo’s return, Parma’s first season back in Serie A finished in 8th place, barely missing an Europa League spot to Juventus. In 2014, Parma had a surprising 6th place finish, but the late payment of income tax on salaries barred them from gaining a UEFA license and qualifying for the Europa League. Financial troubles only got worse, as the following season saw Parma deducted 7 points for failing to pay the players’ wages in time, and finishing last place with a lot of players leaving.

In 2015, Parma went bankrupt, and was re-founded in Serie D as S.S.D. Parma Calcio 1913, later further changing their name to Parma Calcio 1913. Eventually, Parma earned three consecutive promotions to score a Serie A return in 2018.

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