Published On: Mon, Dec 9th, 2013

Parma Club Focus: A Brief History

Parma LogoTo celebrate Parma’s 100th year of existence, this Club Focus is dedicated to a brief history of the club.

Founded in 1913 as Verdi Football Club (in honour of the composer), they began to play league football in 1919. At first, they were not a particularly high-ranking team — playing mostly in the regional leagues. But they advanced quickly. By 1928, they were one of the founding members of Serie B.

Unfortunately, their rapid ascent was matched only by their fall from grace. Three years after founding Serie B, the Crociati found themselves relegated. For more than a decade after being relegated, they would compete in the league that was renamed to Serie C. A mixture of alleged corruption and the onset of World War II prevented the Crociati from promotion from the start to the middle of the 1940s.

After the war ended, they finally earned their well-deserved promotion into Serie B where they competed for the next three years.
Dropping back down to Serie C, they returned to Serie B after five seasons. Winning promotion at the end of the year behind stellar team play, Parma had a run of success in Serie B.

Again, the success was not to last. By the start of the 1964 season, Parma was back in Serie C. Worse yet, they only spent one season in Serie C before being relegated even once again. Though they’d make it back to Serie B from 1972-75, the rest of the time prior to 1978 would be spent in lower leagues. Making it into Serie B twice in the early 80s, the Crociati began to ascend the footballing food chain in 1986.

Securing promotion in Serie B again, Parma finished their first season just short of promotion to Serie A.

Parma Uefa CupThen, in 1990, Parma secured their first ever promotion into Serie A behind the noted tenure of Nevio Scala. They finished their first season in Serie A in sixth place, following it up with another sixth place finish the next year. Clearly, this was a club on the rise.

In 1993, the Crociati came up with an international trophy after winning the Cup Winners’ Cup over Royal Antwerp. Also in the 1993 season, Parma finished at an all-time high of third in Serie A.

After finishing the 1995-96 season in a disappointing sixth place, Scala resigned as coach and was replaced by Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti set about overhauling the team and the result was the most famous team Parma ever fielded. Arrivals of Herman Crespo, Enrico Chiesa, and Ze Maria resulted in the best finish Parma has ever managed — second place behind champion Juventus for the 1997 season.

Parma continued their successful run of form continued until 2001, when they sold a number of club stars — including Gigi Buffon and Lilian Thuram. Shortly after that, Parma’s money issues became apparent. Numerous stars were sold in a short period of time to help make up for the financial difficulties the team was undergoing.

It all came to a head with Parmalat, who owned Parma, underwent a financial meltdown. Eventually, president Calisto Tanzi was arrested in connection to the Parmalat scandal.

The club was reformed and given the current name of Parma Football Club. Unfortunately, it was not enough — the club was declared insolvent in 2004.

In 2007, Tommaso Ghirardi bought the club at public auction. Alas, the 2007-2008 season marked the first time in 18 years that Parma was relegated at the end of the season.

Fortunately, the relegation only lasted a year. Since securing promotion back in Serie A, Parma has experienced something of a resurgence under the new ownership. While Ghirardi has yet to make quite the hardware haul that the Crociati did earlier, Parma has been playing steady football.

Before the weekend, Parma was 10th in the tables. Coach Roberto Donadoni has his team playing with a belief that future success is more than a remote possibility. In other words, after 100 years, the future of Parma is bright.

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