After 11 years in Serie A, Chievo will say goodbye to Italy’s top tier at the end of the current campaign with Napoli making certain, the somewhat inevitable on Sunday evening. A 3-1 defeat at the Stadio Bentegodi means the Flying Donkeys have been grounded.
Having amassed just 11 points with six matches still to play, Serie B beckons. The 11 consecutive years spent in the top flight is a record for Chievo, who have only been relegated from Serie A just once in their history – back in 2007 – the same season the club participated in the Champions League and UEFA Cup.
Problems within have clearly had an effect on the pitch, and the financial issues which resulted in three points being deducted made survival all the more difficult for Chievo. Lorenzo D’Anna saved the club from relegation at the end of last season, but was unable to keep the momentum going into the new campaign.
Then came the ridiculous appointment of Gian Piero Ventura, who lasted just a month, and was roundly criticised by captain, leader, legend Sergio Pellissier on Instagram, when he unexpectedly, or it looks like expectedly, quit.
“A tough summer with the capital gains problem,” Pellissier wrote. “A start to the season to be forgotten, and to top it all off, the resignation of a coach who, as soon as he got here, already wanted out.”
Even bringing in Domenico Di Carlo, a two-time Chievo coach and a man who knows the club inside out, looked like the right appointment and one which had the best chance of realising a great escape. Hope was high.
Things started well with credible draws against Napoli, Lazio and Inter, before the first win of the season against Frosinone. However, since then, Chievo have managed to gain two points, nothing more.
While complaints about VAR and refereeing decisions became an almost weekly occurrence as Di Carlo tried to delay the inevitable, it moved ever closer, until coming to pass on Sunday, April 14.
“Don’t be like Ventura,” Pellissier noted earlier in the campaign. “You win and lose together. That’s how it must be in a team. Don’t give up until it’s over.”
And now it is over.
There is hope though, as after a single year in Serie B, 11 years ago, the Flying Donkeys made it back into Serie A at the first attempt. Whether or not they fly again in 2019/20 is a question many Clivensi are asking with bated breath.