When we last saw Fortitudo Bologna a month ago, the team was in LegaDue; now we find them in the third division. It is called “A Dilettanti” and it’s the reason why owner Gilberto Sacrati can’t hold his players under contract, nor will he ask interested pretenders for a buyout: Fortitudo is no longer a pro club; its status is now simply “amateur.”

That’s because Sacrati didn’t pay his fiscal shares before the July 11th deadline, and the €1 million guarantee promised to the Italian federal council wasn’t considered enough in appeal.

Sacrati restarts with €1.4 million owed to some players (remember that Fortitudo ended the season with 13 men under contract), a debit with Italian Treasury estimated at about €1 million, and a mortgage on the use of Paladozza which still has €7 million outstanding (and who knows how many years).

Meanwhile, Sacrati continues to say stuff like “I’m staying here, the club is alive. We’re not losing the youth teams, and this is very important. We have to endure one year’s purgatory.” Well, the story is not so simple, especially with regard to the money Sacrati needs to settle debts. He didn’t have the funds in December, he hadn’t them in May, and he hasn’t them in July, now that his “Parco delle Stelle” dream is shattered.

Fortitudo hasn’t failed thanks to Dino Meneghin and his clemency towards the historical club long ago called Basket City: This is the reality. The malediction that began with Giorgio Seragnoli’s exit, and continued with wild Michele Martinelli, seems far from ending. Such a big problem it is for the fans, now scared about Sacrati’s confined permanence, with no one attracted to a club which was ranked second in Italy in average attendance. This wasn’t 2000, when Carlton Myers raised the Italian League title for the first time: It’s a fact from 2008-2009.

Going down through Italy, some words must be dedicated to Rieti. After the usual year spent by president Gaetano Papalia in search of new investors, he preferred to move the club from Rieti to Napoli, whom FIP decided to delete from Italian pro basketball just one year ago. Papalia has decided to inaugurate the wild card era? We are witnessing another favour from Dino Meneghin, who has forgotten all the rules in giving his approval to a transfer Papalia needed only to survive, thought impossible in Rieti.

Paplia hopes to discover some fresh money in Napoli, and here comes the doubt about those financial-political connections he has with Napoli, where local institutions found him hurrying to cover those resources former owner Mario Maione had never succeeded in obtaining. Even if Meneghin wanted to save Rieti, the choice among some important cities (Torino, Genova, Palermo) devoid of great basketball had to be clear, because they have the same rights Napoli has. But this operation will really make sense if in the future we again see Rieti at its rightful place in Serie A.

– written by Francesco Cappelleti

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