Over the summer on a plane to Bologna, I read an article by John Brunton in which the writer details a semi autobiographical narrative on both the history and current situation of the lesser known Venezia FC.
It was a brilliant reminder of the attraction of following a team whose success doesn’t necessarily match its rich history. It’s a fantastic piece of writing that covers the team’s rise and fall (and rise again) whilst painting another picture of Venice that doesn’t make it onto many tourist postcards.
Having a companion whose family hail from Bari, I felt compelled to do a little research on a side I knew very little about, broadly speaking.
David Platt’s reported £5,500,000 move to Bari in 1991 may have brought the Southern side from the Apulia region to the attention of English football supporters, but can boast to be the most successful side from that particular region, according to Serie A records.
Bari also produced Antonio Cassano, who currently plies his trade with struggling Hellas Verona at the foot of Italy’s top league. Since their promotion to Serie A under Antonio Conte in the 08/09 campaign and relegation in 10/11, the side has struggled to gain any sustained pressure at the top of Serie B.
As in the case of Venezia, Bari has experienced the tumultuous nature of football and its remorseless pendulum through the various eras. The modern era has seen the likes of Venezia and Bari struggle financially, the former going bankrupt in 2005, 2009 and 2015.
Russian oligarchs such as Yuri Korablin gave Venezia a temporary lift, but it was the support and passion for keeping an institution alive that attracted criminal defence lawyer Joe Tacopina to resurrect the club’s fortunes after preliminary moves to build a new stadium collapsed and Korablin washed his hands of any further involvement.
Cassano backed campaigns and motions by Bari supporters to further the club’s standing without corporate aid or involvement in producing an unrecognisable club.
Bari and its ultras have seen difficult periods come and go due to a variety of circumstances, but no more so than in 2014 when a consortium headed by Gianluca Paparesta achieved in gaining the club’s assets and title, saving Bari from oblivion.
To think only a few seasons ago they had Leonardo Bonucci at centre back and a strong team looking to go places, and even after losing key players maintained a very healthy equity for their status.
There will always be a sense of caution for Bari supporters, but they will be relatively pleased with recent on field progress, despite a few slip ups.
With the extra backing of Dr Noordin Ahmad from the spring of 2016, Bari have showcased their attraction as a well backed, historically/geographically attractive and relatively low risk investment, though fans naturally have questioned Ahmad’s motives and pointed towards how due to Italian FA regulations there are issues surrounding ownership.
Some would point to how the Pozzo Empire has had to be spread outside Italy, due to investors only being able to own one club at any time, and whether or not there are ulterior plans in place they are as yet unaware of.
For now though, they’re back on the football rollercoaster slowly going upwards, instead of fastidiously rocketing up and crashing in the space of a season.
The only mission that matters for now is how Fabio Grosso will be looking to guide his side to an away victory at Spezia on Saturday, following two impressive consecutive home wins without conceding.
Written by Ross Wilson
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