U.S. consortium chief flies in to strike Roma deal


Mon, 28 Mar 15:26:00 2011

Thomas DiBenedetto, the head of a United States consortium bidding to take control of cash-strapped Italian soccer club AS Roma, flew in to try to strike a takeover deal with creditor bank Unicredit on Monday.

Reports said DiBenedetto, a partner of New England Sports Ventures which owns English Premier League side Liverpool, was spotted arriving in Rome off a flight from Boston before heading to a meeting with the bank.

Earlier this month the company which controls Roma, Italpetroli, said it had extended a period of exclusive talks with the U.S. consortium until March 30.

Discussions have been going on for months with takeover speculation surrounding the indebted club for years.

One of the reasons for coach Claudio Ranieri's resignation last month was the uncertainty caused by the prospect of new owners and the lack of money he had to spend in the January transfer window.

Unicredit had taken over the defacto running of the club in order to steer the sale process and recoup losses.

Roma, now managed by former player Vincenzo Montella, were eliminated by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions league last 16 earlier this month and lie sixth in Serie A having finished runners-up last term.

No Serie A club is currently majority owned by foreign investors, who have instead been 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.


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