The downfall of Sicilian football from Palermo to Catania

2021 has been a turbulent year for Italian football as Italy ended their 55-year trophy drought at the Euros and Inter ended Juventus’ 9-year trophy drought. scudetto trail. It looked like Italian football was starting to get the attention it once had in the early 2000s.

The future may look bright for many big Italian clubs such as Napoli, Atalanta and Milan, but a recurring problem continues to threaten the bulk of smaller clubs across the country.

Financial issues have become a global concern for many football clubs across Europe since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the problem has troubled Italian teams for years. No region in Italy has seen so many financial and football disputes as Sicily.

The island has seen over 30 professional and semi-professional teams over the years, however, the 2021-22 season marked the second year in a row that no Sicilian club has played in Italy’s top two flights.

The Serie A card has ended in the peninsula for another year. Southern Italy are represented by Napoli, who are in the top four, and newcomers Salernitana, who have returned to Serie A for the first time in 23 years. The trend continues in the second flight of Italy where only four of the twenty teams are from the South, such as Reggina, Crotone, Lecce and Benevento.

Although Northern Italy has always had more representatives historically, Sicily has never failed to provide entertainment across the Italian football pyramid.

Only 16 years ago, Sicilian football was at its peak. In the 2005–06 season, Palermo finished fifth, the best result in club history, and failed to qualify for the Champions League by a margin of just two points. Messina was supposed to be relegated but Juventus ended up being demoted to Serie B instead of the Peloritani following their involvement in Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Catania will join the two Sicilian clubs the following season after earning promotion to Serie A for the first time since 1984.

Across Palermo, Messina and Catania, the island had three teams in the Italian top flight for the first time in the 2006-07 season. Ironically, Sicilian football was at its best when Italian football as a whole was at its worst.

The pinnacle of Sicilian football has always been the provincial capital, Palermo. If you go back a decade, Palermo threatened to become a major force in Italian football.

the Rosanero secured three consecutive top-six finishes between 2004 and 2007 and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in club history in the 2009–10 season by finishing two points behind. Sampdoria. The club’s fans had grown accustomed to their team beating Milan, Juventus and Inter.

Palermo’s philosophy was to spot cheap players who could be sold at a high profit. From Edinson Cavani and Paulo Dybala to Luca Toni and Javier Pastore, the Sicilian team has spotted and then sold dozens of players. However, this modus operandi has become unsustainable.

The club was declared insolvent in October 2019 and is expected to eventually reform as Palermo FC and start in Serie D. Although Palermo may have gained promotion to Serie C last season, they failed to create an enduring model of football that could take them once. back to Serie A and have recently sacked coach Giacomo Filippi after a recent dip in form.

For a province that boasts a plethora of talented footballers and passionate supporters, why has Sicilian football suffered such disgrace?

Look no further than the owners of these Sicilian clubs. From top Sicilian sides such as Palermo, Catania, Trapani and Messina to smaller teams such as Sicula Leonzio, it’s amazing how many clubs in the province continue to fail or become financially unsustainable.

Over the past few years we’ve seen teams like Catania and Trapani play decent football, but their success on the pitch has been overshadowed by management uncertainty and disorganization.

Trapani, a side located in the western part of the region, were the last Sicilian club to feature in Serie B in the 2018-19 season. They finished third and were supposed to be relegated to Italy’s third tier, but the club’s growing debt and inability to pay their players’ salaries forced the club to reform as Trapani FC and start in Serie D, the same situation that Palermo had to face a few. years back.

ACR Messina, who currently reside in Serie D, are in an even worse scenario. The club has been reformed four times in the last 20 years after a host of bad investments from the team owners. There may still be avid fans in the Messina area, but the club’s days of success on the pitch are long gone.

Another page in the history of Sicilian football has turned more recently. Calcio Catania, founded in 1946, was the only Sicilian club to never go bankrupt, until recently. the Rossoazzurri were playing exciting attacking football this season, however, the eastern Sicily side had racked up around €60m in debt and were declared insolvent according to the Italian newspaper The Gazzetta dello Sport.

While the future of the four biggest Sicilian sides looks bleak, the recent decline of the province’s top sides has paved the way for the rise of a few smaller clubs, such as Acireale and Licata. Both of these teams have adapted well to modern football and hope to make the jump to Serie C next season.

While the bulk of Italy’s top teams hail from the North, there’s no denying the love affair between football and southern Italy. Sicily produced some of the most entertaining and iconic calcio stories of the early 2000s.

Although the idea of ​​having Palermo, Trapani and Catania in the same division may seem intriguing to fans, a region with the population size of Sicily, which is almost five million, deserves a team that should stand out. fight for European football.

This is a reminder of how far behind Sicily is compared to other Italian regions. Will this decade see Sicilian football lose the colorful history it once had? If the clubs in the province continue to fail to adapt to modern football and create stability within its management and finances, then it certainly will.

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