MILAN (Reuters) - Chinese businessman Jiang Lizhang has agreed to buy a 60 percent stake in Italian side Parma, who have just been promoted to the second tier, the club said on Wednesday.
Parma also announced that former Argentina forward Hernan Crespo, who played for the club between 1996 and 2000 and returned in 2010 to end his career there, would become a vice-president.
Parma, twice winners of the old UEFA Cup in the 1990s, were declared bankrupt two seasons ago after finishing bottom of Serie A and demoted to the fourth tier, but have won two successive promotions since then.
Lizhang already owns Spanish club Granada and has a five percent stake in NBA team Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I sincerely believe that this new partner, surrounded by people who love Parma such as Hernan and supported by the current management, can open up unprecedented growth for our club....and present a great opportunity outside football,” said Parma director Marco Ferrari.
“It is right to be strongly linked to the values of the past, but in a changing world, you should not be too scared of
new things,” he added.
Ferrari said the deal would be completed early next month.
Parma were promoted to Serie B last Saturday when they beat Alessandria 2-0 in the Lega Pro playoff final.
The club were relegated from Serie A in 2014-15 after a chaotic season during which they twice changed hands.
They were subsequently declared bankrupt and allowed to enter the fourth tier of the Italian league after a group of local businessmen came forward to re-found the club.
At one point during their final Serie A season, Parma were forced to postpone two games because they could not pay for stewards or security, while the players had to do their own laundry.
They were only able to complete the season after Serie A set up a special fund.
They also had property confiscated by bailiffs including a bench used by the then coach Roberto Donadoni.
Parma enjoyed their heyday between 1992 and 2002 when they lifted two UEFA Cups in 1995 and 1999, the old European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1993 and three Italian Cups, although they never won Serie A.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis