Palermo president denies takeover trouble, blasts players

MILAN (Reuters) - Palermo's new president Paul Baccaglini denied on Tuesday that his takeover of the Sicilian club had run into trouble and blasted his players for lack of effort, warning that many of them would not be "part of the future" there.

Baccaglini responded to Italian media reports as he declared that lawyers and bankers were working hard behind the scenes to finish the takeover by April 30, as previously announced.

The U.S.-born businessman agreed in March that his fund would take over the struggling club, which is almost certain to be relegated to Serie B at the end of the season, and he replaced Maurizio Zamparini as president.

The charismatic Zamparini had overseen around 40 coaching changes during 15 turbulent years at the club.

"I find it necessary to explain the current situation and to quieten those who break the silence with allegations based on their own fantasy," said Baccaglini, in a statement issued by the club.

"There are lawyers, bankers and technical experts who are working hard to finalise the operation within the established timeframe.

"In the meantime, we are working hard to plan next season when we must have the strong, competitive team which this club deserves."

Palermo, who have employed five coaches this season, are 19th in 20-team Serie A with 16 points, 13 adrift of safety, and will be relegated if they lose at home to Fiorentina on Sunday.

They have lost eight and drawn two of their last 10 games and were hammered 6-2 at Lazio on Sunday.

"It is undeniable that the squad I inherited presents enormous problems when it comes to character. I am not evaluating the players as men, but as players who step on to the field every Sunday," said Baccaglini.

"Their performances have been absolutely disappointing and despite all attempts to shake them up and get results, we have not seen the reaction we asked for.

"It's therefore undeniable that many of the players in the current squad will not be part of the future of Palermo, which owes its fans and history a more consistent and impressive performance."

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ian Chadband)

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