Montreal Impact boss seeks connection to Bologna FC
Joey Saputo in group whose bid accepted by storied Italian club
The Montreal Impact may soon have a European connection: Bologna FC.
Impact president Joey Saputo confirmed Thursday that he is part of a group of investors whose offer to buy the 105-year-old Italian club was accepted by the team's board of directors.
Saputo said in a statement that a letter of intent was signed and they hope to finalize the agreement on Oct.15.
"I would like to thank all the people involved in the transaction, especially the loyal supporters of Bologna FC for their encouragement throughout the process," Saputo said.
The investment group is led by New York lawyer Joe Tacopina, who resigned as vice-chairman of AS Roma to pursue Bologna.
Di Vaio would like to continue connection
The Impact have a connection with Bologna in striker Marco Di Vaio, who left the Italian club to sign as the Impact's first designated player in 2012.
The 38-year-old Di Vaio is set to retire at the end of the Major League Soccer season and is expected to take some form of non-playing job with his former club, although he said nothing was settled on that front.
"I hope so," Di Vaio said after practice at Saputo Stadium. "We're waiting for it to be confirmed on Oct. 15.
"I hope everything goes well. After, we'll see if there's a possibility to work again with Joey and with Bologna."
The club often called the Rossoblu for their red and blue striped shirts has won seven Italian league titles, but none since 1964. After a weak 2013-14 campaign in Serie A, the top league in Italy, the team was relegated to Serie B.
Di Vaio said seeing his former club struggle hurt him.
"Yeah, a lot, because I fought with my teammates to keep the team in first division," he said. "It's too bad they were relegated, but now there is a chance to be something.
"It's important for the future of the club and the city. If they close (out) the contract, it would be a great moment."
The Impact played a friendly match at Bologna's Stadio Dall'Ara in November, 2012, losing 1-0 on a goal from Daniele Paponi.
Paponi and midfielder Andrea Pisanu were then loaned to Montreal for the 2013 season, but have since gone back.
Having Saputo as owner of both teams could lead to more exchanges.
"There would be more opportunity, but the important thing for me is that the Impact already have a future guaranteed and now we'll see if Bologna can have that," said Di Vaio.
Added coach Frank Klopas: "We'll see. I don't know how it can impact us now. It's a personal investment (by Saputo) with the group. The important thing is Marco can go back and the relationship will only get better. How this club can benefit, we'll see in the future."
Fans excited team could return to Serie A
Reports in Italy said the investors will inject six million euros (C$8.4 million) immediately in the money-losing club and another 6.3 million euros ($8.9 million) by the end of the season. They also agreed to renovate the 38,279-seat stadium.
The board voted in favour of the Tacopina-Saputo bid on Wednesday night.
The reports said fans were excited that the sale may give the club the resources to get back to Serie A. Currently, Bologna is sixth place in Serie B at 3-2-2.
Bologna FC was founded in 1909 and won league championships in 1925, 1929, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1941 and 1964. Italian Cups followed in 1970 and 1974.
The Impact's ties to Italy took another turn this week with the arrival of holding midfielder Marco Donadel, who is to train with the team for 10 days. The 31-year-old former Napoli player insists he is only visiting his friend Di Vaio and is not on a try-out, although he is currently without a club. He would not be able to sign until 2015.