US billionaire Commisso buys Italian club Fiorentina

Media tycoon Rocco Commisso has bought Fiorentina GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

MILAN: Italian-American media magnate Rocco Commisso on Thursday completed the takeover of Serie A team Fiorentina, the Italian club announced.

Reported to be worth in the region of 170 million euros (US$190 million), the deal brings an end to the 17-year ownership of the Della Valle family.

The 69-year-old Commisso is chairman of cable television provider Mediacom group, and owns New York Cosmos soccer club.

He had in recent years tried to buy AC Milan.

“I have always been a fan of Italian football and there are no words to describe how incredibly honoured I am to have the opportunity to contribute to writing the next chapter in the history of a legendary club like Fiorentina,” said Commisso.

Born in Calabria in southern Italy he moved to the United States in 1962 with his mother and two sisters, to join his father and brother who had moved there six years earlier.

“Florence is known throughout the world as a city that represents the best of Italian culture,” said Commisso.

“In these three years of contacts to acquire the club, I have developed a profound awareness of how important La Viola is for this city and its fans.”

The Della Valle family, which includes entrepreneur Diego Della Valle, who controls luxury group Tod’s, purchased the Tuscany-based club in 2002 after the former two-time Serie A winners went bankrupt and were relegated.

“Diego and Andrea deserve great honours for having saved this company from financial collapse,” said Commisso. “They leave solid foundations on which to build the club.”

Fiorentina – Italian champions in 1956 and 1969 – finished 16th last season, avoiding relegation on the final day of the season.

Their last trophy was a sixth Coppa Italia in 2001.

According to local newspaper reports, star striker Federico Chiesa is a transfer target for Juventus and Inter Milan.

“I haven’t talked to (coach Vincenzo) Montella yet. I’ll do everything possible to keep Chiesa,” said Commisso.

Della Valle brothers Diego and Andrea said they chose the offer which they believed to be best for the club.

“Among the various offers we received, we prioritised the one that wasn’t most financially advantageous for us but the one we believe gives the greatest guarantees of a solid and passionate future to La Viola, given the knowledge and competence that Rocco Commisso already has in the world of football,” they said in a statement.

Fiorentina are the latest Italian club to move into foreign ownership.

Roma are already owned by US businessman James Pallotta and AC Milan are controlled by American hedge fund Elliott.

Canadian businessman Joey Saputo is the majority shareholder of Bologna while Inter Milan are in the hands of Chinese firm Suning Group.