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Rent’s too damn high, says Reggiana owner Mike Piazza

Rant during press conference includes fist-pounding and swearing.

Mike Piazza has owned a majority share of Serie C side A.S. Reggiana since 2016. Recently he suggested the team struggles because the rent it pays Serie A side Sassuolo is too high.
A.S. Reggiana

I want to kick this post off by saying it has little to nothing to do with Inter Milan. But, it does have to do with Italian football. If that doesn’t interest you, no harm, no foul. In fact, the only loose connection to Inter is explained at the end of the post.

So, click away if you aren’t interested ... I completely understand.

But, last week, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza went on a tear and it hit social media like the latest Nor’easter.

A little background:

In 2016, Piazza decided he wanted back into sports so he purchased a majority share of AC Reggiana, a club currently languishing in Serie C, Group B – take note, because the group and Serie C will come up again.

He apparently took on the team with a lot of debt and claims to have since paid those debts.

But, that’s not the problem.

Since 2014, Reggiana and Serie A side Sassuolo both play in Reggio Emilia at the MAPEI Stadium – formerly known as the Stadio Tricolore. Sassuolo and owner Giorgio Squinzi – owner of MAPEI Construction – are charging Piazza “over €230,000 for the use of the stadium for home matches, which when added to the cost of rent results in a much higher fee.”

After the team went bankrupt in the 1990s – after being relegated from Serie A in 1997 -- it was forced to surrender the title to the stadium because of the debt.

So, during a press conference at what appears to be the team’s offices, Piazza – via a translator – goes on a tangent, claiming he is “sick and tired of Reggiana being pushed around.”

La conferenza di Reggiana Calcio. #daicandom

Posted by AC Reggiana 1919 on Friday, March 2, 2018

Piazza claims Reggiana is paying “double” the league average for similar circumstances.

”We want them to come back to the table, and we want the mayor to help. That’s the bottom line. If not, the mayor, the city [of Reggio Emilia] needs to find us a place to play,” Piazza said during the 13-minute press conference.

In a statement by the team Tuesday, the club said it has never seen the operations budget for the stadium and has no idea where its rent is going. Additionally, the team said they are not allowed to use the stadium for anything other than official matches. No training, no closed-door practices, no nothing.

“We have decided to explain this to the public and with maximum transparency these concepts, reaffirming the current rent contract has many disadvantages for the club itself and that these are negatively reflected on the balance sheet that must be corrected,” the club said.

Reggiana is battling to get back to its former glory in the midst of a battle for promotion to Serie B – and here is where the Serie C stuff mentioned before gets in:

Currently, Reggiana is fourth in Serie C Group B. Serie C has three groups, based on geography of 19 teams each – Group B actually has 18 teams since Modena was kicked out. The way the promotion works is the top team in each group is automatically promoted – Padova, Robur Siena and Lecce are currently leading each group. After that the top nine teams from each group enter a playoff.

That’s right, nine teams from each group battle for the last promotion spot to Serie B. So, a 27-team playoff starts after 38 matchdays.

The second-place teams get a bye in the first round and join a two-leg playoff in the second round. Eight teams compete in a home-and-away in the final eight with the semifinals and finals being a single game. That’s up to seven games after the 38 in the regular season.

As for Reggiana, it has been an interesting season after their first round Coppa Italia game against FeralipSalo had to be moved because of renovations at the MAPEI. But, they sit in a good position to potential promotion.

With the stadium issues … between Sassuolo ownership and the Reggio Emilia town council, it is likely to be a dispute that won’t end anytime soon.

What do you think? Post your comments below!