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Reggiana fans in the terraces during Sassuolo vs Chievo

Reggiana was the first team in Italy to build and to be owner of their own stadium, in 1995. Now, after the bankrupcy of 2005, the stadium has been bought by Mapei, owner of serie A team Sassuolo, a team of a different city. Now Reggiana are guest in their own stadium, which was even paid for by Reggiana fans, amongst others. A sad story of modern football and the consequences for fans. 

A.C. Reggiana is a small but proud team that plays in the Italian third division and its history has seen the “Old Heart Granata”  flitting usually between the second and third division. In 1992/93, they were promoted to Serie A, with Pippo Marchioro as manager and on the pitch players like Marco Pacione, Dario Morello or Giuseppe Scienza… all players unknown in international football. But years before, Reggiana was the team in which Andrea Silenzi started his career, who played later for Nottingham Forest, and Fabrizio Ravanelli who later became a Middlesborough player. In summer 1993, Reggiana played in Serie A, but only in a small city-owned stadium in centre of town. City authorities, police and the Serie A however, considered the stadium not fit for the Serie A Championship. This obviously posed a problem to the Reggiana President Franco Dal Cin, former sport director of Udinese in the early years of the ’80s, the man who led Zico to the Friuli team.

The Reggio Emilia Municipality itself did nothing to solve the problem about the stadium and Reggiana was just about to play their home games in Bologna, but then Franco Dal Cin decided that Reggiana should build its own stadium. In November 1993, Dal Cin then got the relatively famous player Paulo Jorge Futre to play for Reggiana, to increase the attractiveness of Reggiana to finance the stadium. Futre unfortunately only played only one game, scored a fantastic  goal but was then injured. He only returned one year later.  But in the meantime, 1026 Reggiana fans paid a lot of money for ten-year season tickets, other money came from the factory construction and from the sponsor Giglio (which gave its name to the ground) and from bank credits, amounting to a total of 11 million euro. On 24 april 1995 then, the stadium was inaugurated with Reggiana vs Juventus with a sold-out ground with 29.000 spectators in the new Giglio Stadium. Therewith, the Reggiana stadium became the first stadium owned by a football club, years before the Juventus stadium…

With their new stadium, Reggiana, however, subsequently had much less money to invest in players. So, in the same year, they went down to Serie B, then came back to Serie A the next year, with Carlo Ancelotti making his first experience as team manager, then another relegation came and the start of a long long agony: Reggiana was relegated to the third division at the end of 1998/99, faced bankruptcy in the summer of 2005 and then the relegation to the fourth division. Along with the bankruptcy, the stadium was put under the hammer...until it was bought by the chairmen of Mapei in late 2013. Mapei, a giant manufacturing construction company bought the one time Giglio. Problem is: the chief of Mapei is Giorgio Squinzi, president of Association of Italian Industry, and also the owner of the Sassuolo football team, a team from a city close to Reggio but without their own Serie A ground, so that they played in the Reggio Emilia stadium till late last year.

So now, the Reggiana fans have lost their own stadium, a stadium they have contributed to financially. Now they are guests in their own home. Reggiana is now the second team of their own city, but the other team is not a city team but the team of a different town. The Reggiana president had no money to buy the ground worth 3.650 million euro and the local Reggio politicians and businessman are not interested in saving Reggiana as a club. Reggiana have only two thousand of loyal fans but these have now been making their voice heard everywhere in town, either with banners on the road, with letters or with messages in social networks targeted against all those representatives, who did nothing for the stadium.

In December 2013, at the Sassuolo vs Chievo game at the Mpei/Giglio Stadium, five hundred Reggiana fans had bought tickets to go into the stadium to voice their anger and fury. After 15 minutes into the game, they left the stadium again. The first club in Italy to own their stadium are now without one. On 11 January 2013, the fans will march again in the city to protest against the situation. A sad example that should tell all fans to always stay alert and to protect their grounds!


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