New Palermo president Paul Baccaglini continuing tradition of eccentricity in Sicily
Eccentricity appears to be a prerequisite for anyone looking to take the Palermo presidency, with one unusual character succeeding another at the Stadio Renzo Barbera
Overseeing around 40 coaching changes in 15 years as president, Palermo fans could be mistaken for believing they have already had the most eccentric owner in their history in Maurizio Zamparini.
Well, step forward Paul Baccaglini, who will take charge in April on the completion of sale to his co-founded Integritas Capital Group, launching a new chapter in larger-than-life owners at the Sicilian club.
On his formal presentation to the media on 6 March, the 33-year-old decided that was the moment to show just how close to his heart the Rosanero are, by displaying a club tattoo just under his left nipple.
Those that were unaware of Baccaglini’s background may have been shocked by his actions, however, the American-born Italian is not shy in revealing his body, with modelling nude one of the ‘talents’ decorating an ‘interesting’ CV.
The Italian-American then reassured supporters of his suitability for the post by insisting, though, stating “I’m not some ex-con drug dealer.” An interesting choice of example, and a statement that raises more questions than answers.
Made famous during his time as a presenter on controversial radio show Le Lene, Baccaglini had a short-lived political career fronting – literally given his presence on almost all marketing material – the Lemon Party. Promising more lemons for the Italian public, in this case lustful embraces, with the term a euphemism in Italy.
Undertaking that while in the spotlight working for MTV, the then-26-year-old finally embarked on a career in finance, after studying the subject before maverick performances as a TV and radio personality.
This is where it gets interesting for Palermo followers, as behind the array of tattoos and political defiance, is a man who gained international recognition for his expertise in asset management.
Given that players such as Paulo Dybala, Javier Pastore and Edinson Cavani have past through the Rosanero ranks and provided much needed financial resources, the Serie A strugglers will need much the same for Baccaglini’s aspirations.
“He will be a serious president,” promised the outgoing Zamperini, and he certainly has not made a smash-and-grab raid on the club, after having a role in last year’s attempted takeover by Frank Cascio.
However, how long he will remain that ‘serious president’ is open for debate, after indirectly indicating his group will be looking for a return on their investment.
“If I were to buy Chelsea for €1.5 billion, I can sell it, if I do really well, for €1.8 billion,” Baccaglini told Rai.
“Palermo, on the other hand, allows me to foresee a much bigger profit margin.”
That aside, if Baccaglini and co. deliver on promises to build a new stadium, state of the art training complex and propel Palermo toward Champions League riches, fans will care little for what personal wealth he earns or eccentricities he displays.
To smooth relations, Baccaglini stated “the Palermo fans are great people, they give so much without asking for anything.” However, if the young president fails to fulfil any of those pledges during his time in Sicily, they will be expecting something to show for their unwavering support.