On July 15, 2014, Calcio Padova 1910 disappeared from Italian football after failing to register for the upcoming Lega Pro season. It was a poignant end for one of Calcio’s old guard; a club formed 104 years ago back in 1910.
In an official statement, club President Diego Penocchio said:
“We failed at the last moment to find contributions promised by prospective lenders and despite the financial effort of the Presidency, the first team was not enrolled in the Lega Pro championship.” This effectively ended a long if not overly glorious history for the Biancoscudati.
The picturesque city of Padua is situated in the North East of Italy, at the heart of the Veneto region. Standing on the Bacchiglione River, the city is steeped in history and is said to be one of the oldest in Northern Italy. Places of interest include the remnants of Padua’s Roman amphitheatre wall and the Basilica di Sant'Antonio da Padova, known by locals as “Il Santo”. The bones of Padua’s patron saint rest in the richly decorated chapel along with the work of various artists, among them Sansovino and Falconetto. The town is also famous for Shakespeare’s infamous ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ in which most of the story is set.
Padua’s football team last graced Serie A from 1994-1996. Ever since, they were yo-yoing between Italy’s 2nd and 3rd tiers. They spent most of the 2000’s in Serie C (now called Lega Pro) until promotion back to Serie B in the 2008/09 season courtesy of a 3-0 aggregate play-off win against Triestina. The 2010/11 season proved to be the clubs most successful since relegation from Italy’s top flight after they finished 5th in Serie B. Unfortunately a return to Serie A was scuppered after they lost to Novara in the promotion play-offs. Mid-table mediocrity followed before the troubled campaign of 2013-14.
The beginning of the end
During November 2013, the teams on the pitch struggles under coach Dario Marcolin were exacerbated by their problems off it. A visit from the Guardia di Finanza started to raise suspicions over the clubs finances. A second visit in April 2014 was where the Padovani’s troubles began to escalate, who at the time found themselves under their third manager of the season after Marcolin’s replacement, Bortolo Mutti, had been replaced by Michele Serena. It was during this second visit that inspectors requested several relevant pieces of paperwork concerning the payment of contributions to the INPS (Italy’s national social security organisation) and withholding income tax. Instead, president Diego Penocchio and CEO Andrea Valentini returned nothing and as the team headed towards a return to Lega Pro the crisis deepened.
The next three months proved to be tumultuous for the stricken club. In May, relegation was confirmed as the team finished 20th in Serie B. The following month the club and the president were charged with “not having documented Federal paperwork competent enough for the payment of contributions to INPS and withholding income tax.” These charges were related to the fees paid to the clubs employees during the months of January and February 2014.
On June 15th the clubs President hit back:
“Calcio Padova has acknowledged the announcement made today by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, this problem was caused by administrative irregularity, and all that is needed is the mere application of fiscal and administrative papers. Calcio Padova has authorized its legal team to defend the interests of the club which forms part of the institution of the town of Padua. For the benefit of Padova fans, this does not interfere nor endanger the regular activities of the Biancoscudata and this includes enrolment to Lega Pro for next season.”
Unfortunately this was a case of all talk and no action. On June the 25th the club issued another statement finally acknowledging their travails and the difficulties they were having in keeping the club alive
“There is (relative) good news in that the money required to participate in Lega Pro is not in question. The money for the enrolment fee (€30, 000) and for the bank guarantee (€600, 000) is available, despite the doubts raised by several parties. However we must still complete the payments to players, coaches and employees’ for the months of March and April. Without these finances, Padova Calcio will be unable to compete in the forthcoming season. This has now become race against time, but if the money can be found the problems could be solved.”
This help in the terms of finance was not forthcoming and on July the 15ththe club was declared bankrupt, ending 104 years of history.
“Our work for about three months now was aimed at finding partners who could help out. It’s not that we only just realised we have problems” said CEO Valentini, “We knew we had to have investors and we have done everything possible to find them and try to get the issues resolved. The fact remains that we have done lots wrong and the fans of Padova have paid the ultimate price.”
So the team that launched the career of one of Italy’s all-time greats, Alessandro Del Piero, ceased to exist.
Out of the ashes a new club was born, Società Sportiva Dilettantistica Biancoscudati Padova or S.S.D Biancoscudati Padova for short. Under the guidance of Chairman, Giuseppe Bergamin, and Coach Carmine Parlato the club ply’s its trade in Girone C of Serie D. They played their first official match on August 24th 2014 and enjoyed a 2-0 win over Castellan in the Serie D cup.
Unfortunately for Padova fans, it’s a long road back to redemption. The story of this historic club has become an all too familiar one, with other renowned clubs such as A.C. Siena suffering a similar fate. However Biancoscudati Padova currently sit joint top of the Serie D standings and a return to professional football is very much on the cards.
By Mark Neale