Reformed Parma back in Serie B after second straight promotion
Parma have returned to Serie B after earning their second straight promotion on Saturday.
The club, which won three European titles in the 1990s, defeated Alessandria 2-0 in the Lega Pro playoff final to get back into the Italian second flight.
Parma were relegated from Serie A in 2015 and sent to the fourth division after running into financial trouble.
They reformed as Parma Calcio 1913 and won the Serie D title last season, and although they could only finish second this year, they made it through a 28-team playoff to earn promotion, capped by Saturday's win.
On their return to Parma in the early hours of Saturday night, they were greeted by several hundred fans, and the celebrations continued until dawn.
"I want to thank the owners for giving me the opportunity to pursue this dream, but I would also like to thank the splendid fans, who always gave us a hand," said coach Roberto D'Aversa, whose side missed out on automatic promotion, finishing second behind Venezia, but won five games in a row to emerge victorious in the playoffs.
"Getting promoted to Serie B is all down to these lads, who I have to say a big thank you to," added D'Aversa on the club's official website. "I'm proud to have led this club to promotion. If it were up to me, I would stay -- I could not think of anything better."
Former Parma goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon led the congratulations with a message on Facebook.
"Parma is where I was born as a goalkeeper and where I grew as a footballer, laying the foundations for what I am today," he wrote. "This promotion is an extraordinary return to the future, but the rise continues. For now, you have my applause. I am proud of you."
Parma were UEFA Cup winners in 1995 and 1999, but their decline started in 2014, when they were refused a licence by UEFA to participate in the Europa League due to financial irregularities. Less than a year later, the club was declared bankrupt and their relegation to Serie B turned into a drop to the fourth division, where the club were renamed Parma Calcio 1913.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.