The Italian Almanac

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Buying Roma

The American consortium that has just made AS Roma Serie A's first foreign-controlled club said they have big ambitions for the three-time Italian champions. The consortium headed by Italian-American entrepreneur Thomas R. DiBenedetto, who is also a partner in the company that controls the Boston Red Sox baseball team and English soccer giants Liverpool, signed an agreement to buy around 60% of the club.

''With this investment, Roma can aim to be a team that goes beyond the city limits and is able to compete on many fronts,'' DiBenedetto's spokesman Tullio Camiglieri said on Italian radio. ''This group of investors are making a wager and there are all the right conditions (for the club) to be able to make the leap towards ambitious goals. That is in the DNA of this operation''.

The club has changed hands following lengthy negotiations, having been put up for sale last year after the family of chairwoman Rosella Sensi's family reached an agreement with Unicredit, Italy's biggest bank, to wipe out 325 million euros of debts with them. Camiglieri did not give details of how much money the new owners would make available to boost the squad on the transfer market in the close season, amid media reports 40 million euros will be pumped in to buy players.

Roma fans are hoping for a big spending spree for a side that have been hampered on the transfer market in recent years by their inability to match other clubs' big buys under the Sensis. Despite this they were the club to come closest to challenging European and Italian champions Inter Milan's dominance of Serie A in the five years before this season.

DiBenedetto will probably have to offload his stake in the company that owns the Red Sox and Liverpool or Roma will risk being excluded from European competition next season. UEFA's regulations do not allow an individual or firm to have stakes in two clubs taking part in the Champions League or the Europa League.