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AS Roma on the brink


Talks between lawyers on the future of Serie A club AS Roma were suspended late last night and will resume on Thursday.  After a poor start to last season, Roma fought back to finish second behind Inter.  AS Roma ranks twelfth in the Serie A revenue league with income of $146.4m.   They have a fervent following in the capital city, but have had to share the Olympic Stadium, which they do not own, with bitter rivals Lazio.

The current majority owners are the Sensi family who have been involved with the club since 1993.  The current family representative is 38-year old Rosella Sensi whose father, Franco, died two years ago.   Her holding company is Italpetrol which is in the storage and handling of oiil products.   However, the company is threatened with bankruptcy as is struggles to deal with €400m of debt.   The main creditor is Unicredit, Europe's third largest bank, and Ms Sensi is reported to be willing to do a deal with them.

However, they have no interest in owning a major football club and would quickly look for a buyer if they acquired the club as part of any settlement.   Rumours suggesting that George Soros might be interested appear to be baseless.  Roma is listed on the Milan stock exchange and the share price has recently gone up, although it is down over the year as a whole.   Before the global financial crisis the asking price might have been over €20m, rather than the current market value of €10m.  Ms Sensi had launched a project to build the club its own 55,000-seater stadium but that is unlikely to proceed.

There has been speculation about a possible intervention by the Italian prime miniister, Silvio Berlusconi.   He has broken off a holiday to deal with a government crisis.  His first loyalty is to AC Milan which he owns.   However, Ms Sensi is reported to have sought the intervention of Gianni Letta, Mr Berlusconi's trusted aide.