Mediacom Communications founder, chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso added to his sports holdings Thursday, closing a deal to purchase Italian soccer team ACF Fiorentina for an undisclosed sum.
This is the second soccer team Commisso, a native of Italy and a long-time enthusiast of the sport, has purchased in the past two years. In 2017, Commisso purchased the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.
ACF Fiorentina, based in Florence, Italy and known by fans as “La Viola” for the violet color of its uniforms, has had some past success, winning the Italian Cup in 2001. The team finished 16th in Serie A last season.
“As a lifelong follower of Italian soccer, words cannot describe how incredibly honored I am to be part of writing the next chapter in Fiorentina’s storied history,” Commisso said in a press release. “Florence is known throughout the world for representing the very best of Italy’s culture. During my three-year pursuit of this club, I gained a tremendous appreciation for how important La Viola is to the city and its loyal fans.”
Commisso purchased the team from brothers Diego and Andrea Della Valle, who have owned the club for 17 years. ACF Fiorentina was founded in 1926, and emerged from bankruptcy in 2001, after which the Della Valles purchased the club. Although Diego Della Valle has invested significantly in the team, he has battled with some fan groups. According to the New York Times, Della Valle wrote an open letter to fans in March, “accusing the club’s supporters groups of creating an atmosphere that ‘destabilized the team and the club itself.’”
In a statement, the Della Valles said Commisso’s commitment to Italian soccer was a major factor in selecting him as the new owner.
“A new chapter begins for the Viola team that we hope will bring many successful seasons, especially for the respectable supporters and the city of Florence to which we will always remain emotionally attached,” Diego and Andrea Della Valle said in a press release. “In assessing the various offers received, we did not prioritize economic benefits, took in great consideration Rocco Commisso’s expertise and competence in soccer and ultimately accepted his offer as we believe it provides the most solid and passionate future to the Viola. A great ‘good luck’ to Rocco and those who will follow him in this adventure. It’s with great gratitude that we salute all the people who have worked with us in the last 17 years and have given their best for the Viola jersey.”
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Chiomenti acted as financial and legal advisers respectively for the buyer; Credit Suisse and Bonelli Erede acted as financial and legal advisers for the sellers.
Commisso did not reveal the price paid for the club, but some published reports have estimated it at between $150 million and $200 million.