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Triestina’s tribulations – Time is running out at the Stadio Nereo Rocco

After Relegation from Serie B last season Triestina sit a disappointing 11th place in group B of the Lega Pro first division. But the disappointments don’t end there for the Trieste based club. The coach was sacked just a few weeks ago and the owners, past and present, have allowed huge debts to accumulate, crippling the club.

Triestina: Real fans...

Triestina: Real fans...

A courthouse decision has requested that the club is declared bankrupt. It is a situation which is repeating itself over and over again up and down the Italian peninsula. Time is running out to save Triestina Calcio.
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Vicenza v Verona – Fire at the Veneto derby

Next weekend is derby weekend in Italy. Keen eyed fans of Italian football will be relishing the prospect of the Rome derby, which will hopefully cap off a wonderful return to club football on the peninsula. But scratch beneath the surface and you will discover another derby with just as much heart and passion, if a little less glamour. The derby del Veneto sees Vicenza hosting regional rivals, newly promoted to Serie B, Hellas Verona. An affair which deserves more than the fleeting glance it is bound to receive.

Fiery fans regularly turn out home and away for Verona

Fiery fans regularly turn out home and away for Verona

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Player profile: Rafael

Verona currently have a team in Serie A in the shape of Chievo, but the flying donkeys aren’t the city’s first love. Having been overtaken by their cousins and spent a long time in Serie B and Lega Pro (Serie C) over the past few years, it is somewhat unbelievable that Hellas Verona are the best supported team in the Veneto city. Their fans start at the very top with the mayor too, and their attendances regularly match and eclipse Chievo’s. Charles Ducksbury has kindly offered to regale us with the tale of one of the club’s heroes. I present you Hellas Verona goalkeeper – Rafael.

Hellas Verona's 'keeper Rafael

Hellas Verona's 'keeper Rafael

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Benito Carbone – New cycle and new struggles at Varese

In the past few weeks the amount of press received by Swindon Town boss, Paolo Di Canio has been incredibly high after the sharp suited Italian had a bit of ‘falling out’ with a player on TV. This hasn’t been the only moment of controversy that Swindon fans have had to endure. While Di Canio has garnered all of the attention a former Sheffield Wednesday team mate has also been doing a bit of coaching. Benito Carbone has taken over at Varese, a side that has performed small miracles in the past three seasons, and is looking to continue their fairytale.

Carbone: untried, but not yet untrusted

Carbone: untried, but not yet untrusted

The story begins a short while ago, just a short drive from Varese, Pavia. Carbone was the captain and talisman of the Pavia side. Leading them to safety, then promotion scoring 31 goals in his three years as a player for the club. He was handed the youth team before being asked to take charge of the Pavia first team, leading them to safety again as manager this time – appointed last March – once they had reached the Lega Pro top tier.

This short, sharp successful spell as Pavia first team coach had a number of Serie B clubs interested in his services for this campaign – the most interested being Gubbio and Varese. In the end – as we full well know – it was Varese who convinced Benny to sign a one year contract. Carbone has also been joined by former Varese, QPR and Perugia player Mauro Milanese, who has taken on the role of Sporting Director and has been responsible for the club’s summer transfers.
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Guest post: The poetry of the Italian football system

I have written a detailed article for David Bevan over at The Seventy Two, it is part of a series of articles by some great writers covering the lower league structures and nuances in countries across the world.

The Seventy Two is an independent website offering opinion on the Football League. This means an in-depth look at individual clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two instead of the strong Premier League focus that can be found on many English football sites.

Please go and give it 10 minutes of your time, I hope you’ll enjoy it.

The poetry of the Italian football system

Contributions are still being accepted to the series for any countries which have not yet been covered, so if you fancy putting your pen to good use why not send one in?

Messina – a true yo-yo club

Messina is the third largest city in Sicily and thirteenth in Italy; founded in the 8th century BC throughout its history it has endured countless catastrophes. Seized by Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Spaniards for its tactical position; it has also been the site of plagues (rumoured to be the port where the Black Death entered mainland Europe), earthquakes and even a tsunami. The most recent earthquake in 1908 brought the city to its knees killing 60,000 people and destroying most of the ancient architecture. A further catastrophe is on the verge of occurring for the fans of the city’s football team.

On Sunday Messina who are now in Serie D (Italy’s fourth level) failed to show up for a game against Real Nocera in the province of Salerno, near Naples. This was the 2nd consecutive game they had been unable to put a team out for and there are fears that the team risks being ejected from league football altogether should it fold.

A troubled past…

The club have had a far from stable history, both on and off the field, and are a true yo-yo team. They have been constantly rising and falling through the Italian pyramid having played just 5 seasons in the top flight in their 110 year history. Messina were the club that gave the world Toto Schillaci; his sale to Juventus by Zdenek Zeman in 1989 allowed the virtually unknown striker to go to the 1990 World Cup and pick up the golden boot.

Schillaci had been with the club since 1983 and helped haul them up from Serie C2 up to the heady heights of Serie B where they managed to secure mid table mediocrity for 4-5 seasons but could not maintain their status for more than a few seasons following the Palermitan’s departure.

The club were relegated to Serie C1 and then due to financial difficulties the FIGC decided that they were not going to allow Messina to compete in any form of professional football. This led to four seasons in the Campionato Nazionale Dilettanti (National Amateur Championship) was followed by a merger with local club Peloro to avoid relegation again to a regional championship. The merged club began it’s ascent up the Italian Pyramid culminating with promotion to the top flight in 2003-04 for the 2nd time in the club’s history. Messina were able to pull off a number of shocks during their stay in Serie A; including beating AC Milan and Inter in their first season up. Sadly, after 3 years relegation came and the disastrous spiral began leaving them where they sit now penniless in Serie B.

…and an uncertain future

The club was declared bankrupt in 2008; new investment couldn’t be found even after the club having been put up for auction countless times. It appears that the men in charge have reached the end of the line, they now think that letting the club fold would be less dishonourable than the past 19 months the fans have had to live through.

They began the season disastrously with a 6-0 defeat where they had to field a makeshift side comprised mostly of youth players from a local football academy just to avoid forfeiting the game.  The players have been without a fixed above after having been evicted from a hotel where they were staying three weeks ago due to debts owed to the establishment totalling €39,058, the hotel made a statement saying they could no longer offer such large gestures of good will. The players are no longer in the city, the local council had offered them guest rooms but even that has been withdrawn.

On Sunday 24th the team failed to show up for their home game against Cittanova, they have been fined €1,000 and the visiting side were awarded a 3-0 win. Together with the absence from Sunday’s away game at Real Nocera mentioned above, the club is in a dire state once more. The league has threatened them with expulsion if they fail to fulfil 2 more fixtures, leaving the city without any football team. The debts are in the region of €650,000 – money that will not be easy to come by for people in the city. They may see the sale of their 40,000 capacity stadium to help with the debt repayments, rendering a return even to Serie B improbable. We can but wish the giallirossi well, and hope that they may have some form of football soon.