Venezia: American Investment Breaths New Life into Old Club

Written by Michael Hadden

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Credit @ Venezia FC

Venezia FC were originally formed in 1907 and over the years they have built a historical past which has seen them play throughout the leagues in Italy, although since the clubs fall from Serie A in the 2001/02 season, the club has gone through some challenging times.

The club dissolved on three separate occasions since their last appearance in Italy’s top division, these being 2005, 2009 and most recently 2015. Following the club’s third bankruptcy, it was purchased by Joe Tacopina, an American lawyer who has had previous involvements with Roma and Bologna. Since his arrival at the Venetian club they have already been promoted from Serie D have been promoted into Lega Pro Group B, Italian footballs third tier, where they are also joined by former Uefa Cup winners Parma.

Large Investments

The club has invested heavily in the summer, bringing in several players who have vast amounts of experience at high levels throughout European football. Around £5m has been spent in the transfer market, this is the more than any club within the league and is a clear statement of intent to return to Serie B. Players such as Maurizio Domizzi and Alexandre Geijo bring a wealth of experience to a youthful side and have the quality to be real difference makers within this standard of football.

Another huge coup for Tacopina was the ability to persuade former Juventus and AC Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi to take over as head coach and ignore interest from the ever growing Chinese Super League. The appointment of a player with his international pedigree has assisted in bringing media attention to the club and one which Tacopina hopes will assist in the sustainability of the club. In an interview with ESPN he has previously highlighted the fact that the city has an estimated 20 million tourists per year with each of them being a potential spectator and an additional revenue stream to help keep the books balanced.

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Geijo previously playing for Udinese. Credit @ Forza Italian Football

New Stadium

The club currently ply their trade at the Stadio Pier Luigu Penzo, the second oldest football stadium currently in use within Italian football. With the capacity being around 7,500 it is not considered to be large enough for the ambitious project and this will mean moving location of the stadium closer to the Venice Marco Polo Airport. Talks and plans for a new 27,000 seater stadium are on going and construction could begin within the next couple of years.

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Credit @ Wikipedia

However, after visiting Venice and attending a couple of the home matches this season, it is a real shame that the existing stadium cannot be redeveloped. There is something very authentically Venetian about having to get a water taxi to a match and this sets up a fairy-tale like day, especially if the result goes the right way. As with most new stadiums, it will be interesting to see if the fans can take to the new stadium and retain the feel of the current ground.

Start to the Season

The team has enjoyed a solid start to the season, after nine games they sit in second place on goal difference, with the team slowly gaining momentum. After playing the majority of their title rivals in the first handful of matches, there seems to be a real opportunity for Venezia to gain momentum against the so called lesser teams and start to put some distance between themselves and their rivals.

Inzaghi has been adopting a 4-4-2 with the wingers pushing high up, this ends up almost a 4-2-4 at times and the impressive young Italian Davide Marsura operating from the left hand side is responsible for the bulk of the productivity.

It is safe to suggest that the squad has the required talent to gain promotion back to Serie B, the Christmas break will offer the view point which will indicate how well the team has managed to gel and mount a challenge on the title.

What is in Store for the Future?

Tacopina has highlighted the intent to market the team and this can be found throughout the various forms of social media which they have put in place. The branding of the team is something that you would expect from a Serie A team, so when this is coupled with the fact that the squad has been significantly strengthened and the plans for a new stadium in the pipeline, this looks like a long term project which is built on solid foundations.

As with all Italian clubs, the local team is key to the local community and it will be imperative that the fans are kept on side, especially the “ultras”. With all the changes, it is an exciting time for the fans to be see their team grow and get back to the level that they were before all of the financial difficulties started. At the minute, there seems to be a great deal of respect between the owner and the fans and as long as the core values of the clubs are maintained then hopefully it won’t be too much longer until they see Serie A football again.

Is investing large sums of money always the key for clubs to get promotion? What should Venezia’s strategy be? Let us know in the comments below!