Parma Calcio 1913 S.r.l., commonly referred to as Parma, is an Italian football club based in the city of Parma that currently competes in Serie B.
Financed by Calisto Tanzi, the club won eight trophies between 1992 and 2002, a period in which it achieved its best ever league finish – as runners-up in the 1996–97 season. The club has won three Coppa Italia, one Supercoppa Italiana, two UEFA Cups, one European Super Cup and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Founded as Parma Football Club in December 1913, the club plays its home matches in the 22,352-seat Stadio Ennio Tardini, often referred to as simply Il Tardini, from 1923. Financial troubles were brought about in late 2003 by the Parmalat scandal which caused the parent company to collapse and resulted in the club operating in controlled administration until January 2007. The club was declared bankrupt in 2015 and re-founded in Serie D by virtue of the Comma 10 of the Article 52 of N.O.I.F..
Early years (1913–1968)
A club was founded in July 1913 as Verdi Foot Ball Club in honour of the centenary of famous opera composer Giuseppe Verdi, who was born in the province of Parma. It adopted yellow and blue as its colours. In December of the same year, Parma Foot Ball Club was formed from many of the original club’s players and began wearing white shirts emblazoned with a black cross. Parma began playing league football during the 1919–20 season after the end of World War I. Construction of a stadium, the Stadio Ennio Tardini, began two years later. Parma became a founder member of Serie B after finishing as runners-up in the Prima Divisione in the 1928–29 season. The club would remain in Serie B for three years before being relegated and changing its name to Associazione Sportiva Parma in 1931. In the 1935–36 season, Parma became a founding member of Serie C, where the club stayed until winning promotion back to Serie B in 1943. Italian football was then brought to a halt as the Second World War intensified, although the team did make an appearance in the Campianto Alta Italia in 1944. Following the restart of organised football, Parma spent three years in Serie B, then split into two regional divisions, before again being relegated in 1948–49 to Serie C. The side would spend another five seasons in Serie C before an eleven-year spell in Serie B that included the achievement of ninth position in 1954–55, a club record at that time. This was an era in which the club’s players generally held down other jobs or were still in education and where the town’s amateur rugby union and volleyball sides, Rugby Parma F.C. 1931 and Ferrovieri Parma, proved more popular among the more privileged. Parma made its debut in European competition during the 1960–61 season, defeating Swiss side AC Bellinzona in the Coppa delle Alpi, but relegation to Serie C followed in 1964–65 season. Parma spent just one season in Serie C before a second successive relegation, this time to Serie D, in 1966.
Rebirth and improvement (1968–1989)
The club was in turmoil and was ordered into liquidation by the Court of Parma in 1968, changing its name to Parma Football Club that year. In 1969, another local team, Associazione Calcio Parmense, won promotion to Serie D. On 1 January 1970, A.C. Parmense adopted the sporting licence of the liquidated club which had been formed in 1913. This meant that it had the right to use the crociato shirts, the badge and the city’s name. This brought about a change of luck in both financial and sporting terms, as the side was crowned Serie D champions and spent three years in Serie C before promotion to Serie B; however, it was a short stay. The team was relegated back to Serie C in its second season in the division. A return to Serie B did not materialise until the end of the 1970s and the club again lasted only one season in the second division of Italian football.
Under the management of Cesare Maldini, Parma once again returned to Serie B after winning its division in 1984 with victory on the final day over Sanremo; Juventus-bound Stefano Pioli scored the only goal of the game. The Ducali again only spent a year in Serie B, finishing third from bottom and succumbing to relegation as a consequence. Arrigo Sacchi did, however, manage to return the club to Serie B in 1986 after a single season in the third tier. The side enjoyed good success that season in missing out on promotion to Italy’s top tier by just three points and eliminating A.C. Milan from the Coppa Italia, a result that convinced owner Silvio Berlusconi to hire Sacchi as the new manager of the Rossoneri. Sacchi’s replacement, Zdeněk Zeman, was fired after just seven matches and replaced by Giampieri Vitali, who secured two consecutive mid-table finishes.
Success and insolvency (1989–2004)
Nevio Scala was appointed as head coach in 1989. Scala’s Parma secured a historic promotion in 1990 to Serie A with a 2–0 Derby dell’Enza win over Reggiana. and investment from parent company Parmalat helped to improve the team’s fortunes and the club made its debut in UEFA competition in 1991. Scala led the club to its first four major honour. The first of these was the Coppa Italia in 1991–92, beating Juventus 2–1 over two legs. The following year came the first international triumph in a 3–1 victory in the Cup Winners’ Cup over Belgian side Antwerp at Wembley. Later that year, the side was successful in the UEFA Super Cup, overcoming Milan 2–1 on aggregate, but lost the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final 1–0 against Arsenal. Scala’s final success with Parma was in another two-legged final against Juventus: Dino Baggio scored twice to give Parma a 2–1 aggregate win, but Juventus exacted revenge in the Coppa Italia final. Replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, Scala departed in 1996 and was a popular coach for the trophies he won and because the team played attractive football in the tradition of the club.
Ancelotti overhauled the team and guided it to a record second place in 1997. Parma consequently made its debut in the UEFA Champions League the following year. Alberto Malesani was installed as coach in 1998 and the club completed a rare cup double in his first season, winning the Coppa Italia final against Fiorentina on the away goals rule and the UEFA Cup against Marseille at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow with a 3–0 victory before Supercoppa Italiana victory over league champions Milan followed in August 1999. In 2000, Hernán Crespo was sold to Lazio for a world record transfer fee and Malesani departed.
Under replacement Renzo Ulivieri, the club lost the Coppa Italia final to Fiorentina. Under Pietro Carmignani in 2002, Parma won a third Coppa Italia trophy against Juventus (but would slip to defeat in the 2002 Supercoppa Italiana) and finished outside the top six for the first time since promotion in 1990. This success earned it a tag as one of the “Seven Sisters”. In April 2004, the club was declared insolvent following the financial meltdown of Parmalat and the club remained in special administration for three years.
Rebirth and another bankruptcy (2004–2015)
The club re-formed as Parma Football Club SpA in June 2004 (as a subsidiary of being liquidated Parma AC SpA) and the 2004–05 season saw Parma plummet to its lowest finish in Serie A – despite a second consecutive 23-goal haul from Gilardino, who was then sold for €25 million – as managers came and went. Parma ended the following season, its first without European competition since 1991, in tenth, but returned in 2006 after the Calciopoli scandal.
On 24 January 2007, Tommaso Ghirardi bought the club out of administration and became the owner and president of the club. Manager Claudio Ranieri helped the team avoid relegation to Serie B on the final day of the 2006–07 season following his February appointment. However, under a succession of managers, Parma’s battle with relegation the following year was not successful, consigning the club to Serie B after 18 years in the top flight.
Francesco Guidolin won promotion back to Serie A at the first attempt with a second-place finish and led the side to eighth on its return to Serie A in 2009–10, narrowly missing out on qualification for the UEFA Europa League before leaving for Udinese. In May 2010, Guidolin swapped jobs with Pasquale Marino, who was sacked by Ghirardi in April 2011 when Parma was caught in another relegation dogfight. Under Marino’s replacement, Franco Colomba, Parma escaped the threat of relegation with two games to spare. In January 2012, Colomba was replaced by Roberto Donadoni following a winless run that culminated in a 5–0 loss to Inter Milan and the new coach led the team to eighth position in a Serie A club record seven-match winning run.
In 2014, Donadoni guided Parma to sixth in Serie A and a third consecutive top ten finish, but a return to Europe in the Europa League for the first time since 2007 was barred due to the late payment of income tax on salaries, not qualifying for a UEFA license, for which the club would also be docked points during the 2014–15 Serie A season. Financial troubles precipitated a succession of ownership changes and the club’s eventual bankruptcy in March 2015 with total liabilities of €218 million and months of unpaid salaries. The club was allowed to finish the season but finished bottom of the league in 20th place.
Another rebirth (2015–present)
The re-founded club, S.S.D. Parma Calcio 1913, was formed in July 2015, taking its name from the year of foundation of the predecessor club and securing a place in the 2015–16 Serie D under article 52 of N.O.I.F. as the representative of Parma. Ex-head coach Nevio Scala was appointed as president and former player Luigi Apolloni was chosen as head coach. In the club’s first season, it sold over 9,000 season tickets, more than doubling the Serie D record. Parma achieved promotion from Serie D into professional football league Lega Pro with three games to spare following a 2–1 win against Delta Rovigo, ending the season in first place with 94 points from 38 games, and an unbeaten run of 28 victories and 10 draws.
Parma ended the 2016–17 Lega Pro season in second place of Group B, but were promoted to Serie B after a 2–0 win over Alessandria in the promotion play-off final.