New Bologna FC owners Joe Tacopina and Joey Saputo received a rock star's welcome in Bologna on Thursday as they look to steer the club back to Serie A.
The Montreal Impact will now have its very own sister club in Bologna FC 1909, after a North American group of investors led by New York lawyer Joe Tacopina and Impact president and owner Joe Saputo purchased the Italian club in the late hours of Wednesday.
The group will provide an initial investment of 13 million euros as well as a 7 million euro payout to the club's previous owners. The percentage of Saputo’s stake in the club was not divulged.
Tacopina, who was named club president, was joined by Saputo on Thursday in Bologna for a press conference at the Dall’Ara stadium.
“We have important plans for the decades to come. We’re here for the long term,” Tacopina said. “We’re fortunate to have with us Saputo, who will help us bring the team back to where it deserves.”
Tacopina and Saputo unveiled some of their plans for the Emilia outfit, which include renovations to Bologna’s historic Dall’Ara stadium, the opening of a new club museum and signings in the upcoming January transfer window to help the team obtain promotion to Serie A. The club currently sits in fifth place in Italy’s second division, Serie B.
“We want to bring the team back to the glory it enjoyed in the past but it will take time,” Saputo said. “The objective in the short term is to bring the team back to Serie A. Once we get there then we’ll think about what’s next.”
Speaking by telephone conference from Bologna on Thursday, Saputo explained how both Bologna and the Impact will be able to profit from the new partnership.
“I think there’s a lot that they can learn from a marketing and business perspective and a lot that we can learn from the soccer side of things,” he said.
Saputo added that the affiliation will greatly benefit the Impact’s younger players and coaches, who will now be able to travel to Bologna for months at a time to gain valuable experience and immerse themselves in a soccer environment.
“One of the things, unfortunately, that we don’t have is that soccer culture in North America,” Saputo said. “We want to bring that soccer culture to Montreal.”
The purchase will also facilitate player transfers between the two teams, Saputo explained, though nothing is in the works for now.