Do you think bailouts are just for banks and automakers? Think again.
Yesterday, thirteen players of Italian Serie C (Lega Pro) side Pescara have asked the club's board to release them since they have not been paid in months. In fact, they've been paid only once since the season began as the club continues to crumble financially. If the club does not pay the players and coaching staff's wages in the next 20 days, a court proceeding will decide on whether to declare them bankrupt, or accept a local government bailout plan to infuse circa 3.2 million euros into the club to keep it afloat.
Pescara last played in Serie A back in 1993, but they were unable to keep pace with the bigger, more well run clubs and languished in Serie B and C, where they are now five points behind the leaders and with some chance of earning promotion - provided the club does not collapse.
The Abruzzo club was already on the verge of bankruptcy when in October, the club's management sold it to Swiss firm Eurocat - but the downward spiral continued. And now, local and national politics are involved since a group of Pescara fans wrote to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, warning that if their club collapses, there may be repercussions in an upcoming regional election.
Berlusconi has been supporting Giovanni Chiodi, a candidate for the presidency of the Abruzzo region for the Popolo delle Liberta (PDL). Elections will be held on December 14th, after the resignation of regional president Ottaviano Del Turco for his role in a financial scandal.
The fans' letter also suggested that Berlusconi back away from supporting Gerardo Soglia, a former club president who was elected to the parliament from Berlusconi's PDL party. The fans say Soglia is responsible for running the club into the ground, leading to the October sale and their current state of affairs. To punish Soglia, the fans want to vote against the PDL.
To make matters even more intriguing, the local bailout plan for the club is being supported by Pescara mayor Luciano D'Alfonso, a political opponent of Soglia. But even D'Alfonso may end up in hot water himself since the bailout plan will likely mean the Italian football federation will relegate the club to the fourth or fifth division.