Genoa’s new American owners target stadium investment

US alternative investment firm 777 Partners has signalled its intention to significantly upgrade Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris after acquiring Italian Serie A football club Genoa.

Genoa yesterday (Thursday) became the latest North American owned Serie A club after the Miami-based company acquired 99.9% of its share capital in a deal reportedly worth €150m (£128.4m/$176m).

Founded in 1893, Genoa is Italy’s oldest football club. The previous owner of 18 years, Enrico Preziosi, will remain on the board of directors, while CEO Alessandro Zarbano will continue to manage the day-to-day operations of the club.

“We are deeply honoured to become part of a club with a history, heritage and tradition as great as Genoa,” Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners, said in a statement following the takeover. “We understand and respect the responsibility we are inheriting, we want to preserve and protect the proud Rossoblù heritage by aiming for the best possible placings in Serie A.”

Preziosi added: “The time has come to pass control. I had always said that I would leave Genoa only to a strong and reliable new owner and I leave it in the hands of 777 Partners. To them, who will now lead the oldest club in Italy, I wish the best. I will always remain a Rossoblù fan.”

In addition to Genoa, 777 Partners already has an interest in the sports market through a significant stake in Spanish LaLiga club Sevilla and British Basketball League team London Lions. The 36,600-seat Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris serves as the home of Genoa and city rival Sampdoria. It is currently owned by the Municipality of Genoa, but Mayor Marco Bucci said in April 2020 that offers for the stadium would be considered.

Genoa has played at the venue since it opened in 1911, with Sampdoria having called the stadium home since 1946. It was reported in 2018 that Sampdoria was in talks to buy the stadium but ultimately a deal was not reached.

Andres Blazquez, 777’s operating partner who helps manage the company’s football investments, told the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that it was the firm’s intention to invest heavily in the Ferraris.

He said: “It is the best stadium in Italy to watch a match. It will remain our home for many more years. We think it is an important stadium for the two Genoa clubs. We want to find a solution for an optimal investment for Genoa. 

“We are sure we want to make investments in this structure, which is currently in the city and shared with Sampdoria. It is important for us to find a suitable solution as soon as possible. It is impossible to have an active stadium that cannot be used every day of the year. The Atletico Madrid stadium has more than 450 events a year, of various kinds: from corporate to weddings. 

“We want a stadium that is open and available every day to fans and citizens, to visit it, do events and make the most of it.”

Image: Gabriel Rinaldi/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size