Unione Sportiva Città di Palermo is an Italian football club from Palermo, Sicily which currently plays in Serie A, the top level of Italian football. Formed in 1900 as Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club, the club existed under various names before finally assuming the current denomination in 1987. Following its return to Serie A in 2004, the club became one of the most prominent in Italy. It has obtained a UEFA Cup place in each of the past three seasons, narrowly missing UEFA Champions League qualification in 2007.
The official team colours are pink and black, giving rise to the nickname rosanero; another less common nickname is aquile, referring to the eagle present in both the official club logo and the coat of arms of the city of Palermo.
US Città di Palermo plays its home games at Stadio Renzo Barbera, formerly known as La Favorita; as of 2007 the stadium has a capacity of 37,000 people. It was originally built in 1932, but was renovated in the late 1980s and served as a venue for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
There is some debate about the exact founding date of the club: some date the club foundation to as early as 1898 due to the existence of papers addressed to Joseph Whitaker, English consul in Palermo and originally believed to be first club president, about a Palermitan football team founded in that year. However, the most common and officially stated foundation date is November 1, 1900, as the Anglo Panormitan Athletic and Football Club. The club is stated to be founded by Ignazio Majo Pagano, a young Palermitan colleague of Whitaker who had discovered football while at college in London, England where the sport was already popular. The staff foundations of the Palermo football organisation was composed of 3 Englishmen and 9 natives of Palermo, with Whitaker as honorary chairman, Edward De Garston as first president and red and blue as original team colours. The first known football match, played by the team on December 30, 1900, ended in a 5-0 defeat to an unidentified amateur English team. first official match, played on April 18, 1901 against Messina Football Club ended in a 3-2 win to the Palermitan side.
In 1907, the club changed its name to Palermo Foot-Ball Club, and the team colours were changed to the current pink and black. From 1908 until the final one in 1914, Palermo was featured in the Lipton Challenge Cup, organised by English billionaire Sir Thomas Lipton. The competition saw them face off against Naples; Palermo won the competition three times, including a 6-0 victory in 1912.
After the football halting due to World War I, the club was refounded on 1919 as Unione Sportiva Palermo, by a committee of young university students and sportsmen. During the early 1920s the club mainly competed in the Campionato Lega Sud (a football league of Southern Italy) reaching the semi-finals in 1924, before being knocked out when facing Audace Taranto, Alba Roma and Internaples. The club was cancelled in 1927 due to financial reasons, but was reformed one year later following a merger with Vigor Palermo under the denomination Palermo FootBall Club. Originally admitted to Prima Divisione (First Division), the equivalent of today's Serie C1, the was promoted into Serie B in 1930 and finally reached Serie A in 1932. From its debut season in Italy's top division, Palermo relocated to a new home, the Stadio Littorio (Lictorian Stadium) in the Favorita neighbourhood, today known as Stadio Renzo Barbera. The club played Serie A until 1936, when they were relegated to Serie B and first challenged Catania in the Sicilian derby.
In 1936 Palermo was also forced by the fascist regime to change its colours to yellow and red, after the official ones of the local municipality. Meanwhile, economical troubles arose, and in 1940 they were expelled by the Italian Football Federation because of financial problems. A merger with Unione Sportiva Juventina Palermo brought to the foundation of Unione Sportiva Palermo-Juventina, which entered Serie C in 1941 and Serie B in 1942.
After the World War II, the team returned to Serie A by capturing the Serie B championship of 1947–48; the refreshed Palermo squad featured players such as Czechoslovakian legend Čestmír Vycpálek who was signed from Juventus alongside Conti, Di Bella and Pavesi. Palermo played Serie A until they were relegated in 1954. Massive changes in the board, as well as the managing post and the playing squad, proved to be successful and the club returned to Serie A in 1956. Palermo then became a sort of "yo-yo" club, bouncing up and down between the top two Italian leagues. Several stars appeared with Palermo during this period, such as Argentine striker Santiago Vernazza (51 goals in 115 games with the rosanero), goalkeepers Roberto Anzolin and Carlo Mattrel, Giuseppe Furino and Franco Causio. Palermo marked its best campaign in the 1961–62 season, finishing 8th in Serie A. In 1963 they however were relegated in Serie B, and played there for five seasons.
In 1970, Renzo Barbera took over the club, becoming the new chairman. After 1973, Palermo FBC played exclusively in Serie B for a long time. Despite this, in this period Palermo reached two Italian Cup finals, both narrowly lost: in 1974 to Bologna on penalty shoot-outs, and in 1979 to Juventus after extra time. Barbera left the club in 1980 and Palermo were relegated to Serie C1 four years later. The 1985–86 season which ended in the summer was however the last for Palermo FBC, as the club, after a struggling saving from relegation, was expelled by the federation because of financial problems. In the summer of 1987, after a year without professional football in Palermo, the club was refounded, bearing the current name, and began to play down from Serie C2, which was promptly won.
In the 1990s Palermo played extensively between Serie B and Serie C1, with a few highs, such as its 1995–1996 Serie B and Coppa Italia campaign, the latter ended in the quarter-finals, and a number of lows such as the 1998 relegation to Serie C2 after defeat in the play-offs to Battipagliese, then revoked by the federation to fill a league vacancy. AS Roma chairman Franco Sensi bought the team in 2000 and Palermo were promoted to Serie B one year later. In the summer of 2002 Maurizio Zamparini acquired the club with the intention to bring it back to Serie A. This happened after a hard but successful 2003–04 campaign which saw Palermo being crowned as Serie B champions and promoted to Serie A after 31 years under head coach Francesco Guidolin.
The 2004–05 season, the first back in Serie A for the Palermo club since 1973, ended with an excellent sixth place, allowing it to qualify for the 2005–06 UEFA Cup for the first time in its history. Luca Toni broke the Palermo Serie A scoring record by notching up 20 league goals. Guidolin left in 2005, and was replaced by Luigi Del Neri, who did not manage to repeat his predecessor's successes and was later replaced by Giuseppe Papadopulo. Despite an unimpressive eighth place in the Serie A table, Palermo reached the round of 16 in the UEFA Cup as well as the Coppa Italia semifinals. Guidolin's return was followed by Palermo being admitted to play UEFA Cup again due to the 2006 Serie A scandal and Palermo players Andrea Barzagli, Cristian Zaccardo and Fabio Grosso being crowned 2006 FIFA World Cup winners. A number of impressive signings were made to establish an ambitious team, and a good beginning in the 2006–07 campaign appeared initially to confirm this. However, a winless 11 games streak caused Palermo to fall down from third to seventh place. The club ended the season with a fifth place and will play again UEFA Cup in the next season, with Stefano Colantuono at Guidolin's place. A number of unimpressive performances left the rosanero to eighth place, seven points shy of the fourth UEFA Champions League spot, and a crushing 5–0 away defeat to Juventus led Zamparini to sack Colantuono on November 26, 2007 and call in Guidolin for a personal fourth spell as Palermo boss. On March 24, 2008 Guidolin was sacked and left the club for the fourth time with his predecessor Stefano Colantuono taking charge for the second time this season.
Colantuono was confirmed as Palermo boss for the 2008–09 season. During the summer market, club stars like Amauri, Barzagli and Zaccardo were sold. New signings included former and current Italian internationals Marco Amelia, Fabio Liverani and Antonio Nocerino. The rosanero started their season with a disappointing 1–2 home loss to Lega Pro Prima Divisione side Ravenna in the Third Round of the Coppa Italia. After just one game from the new campaign, a 1–3 loss to Udinese, Zamparini sacked Colantuono, and the head coach role was then given to Davide Ballardini.
Over the years Palermo has had various owners, chairmen or presidential figures; here is a cronological list of the known presidents:
The official badge as of 2004 is a pink/black escutcheon with an eagle poised for flight within it, and the official club denomination "U.S. Città di Palermo" in capital letters on the top. The eagle instead represents the city of Palermo, as it is also part of the official Palermo stemma.png.
Palermo originally played with red and blue as its official colours since its foundation in 1898, but decided to switch to the current choice of pink and black on February 27, 1907, contemporaneously with the change of denomination to Palermo Foot-Ball Club.
The colours' choice were suggested by count Giuseppe Airoldi, a prominent founding member of the club. In a letter Airoldi wrote on February 2, 1905 to club councillor Joseph Whitaker, he defined pink and black as "colours of the sad and the sweet", a choice he asserted to be a good fit for a team characterized by "results as up and down as a Swiss clock", noting also the fact that red and blue were a widely diffuse choice of colours at the time.
The club had to wait for the new jerseys for three months, because no pink flannel was available in Palermo, forcing the appointed tailoring company to import it from England. The new shirts were first worn in a match against Sir Thomas Lipton's crew team; the match ended in a 2-1 win for Palermo. From 1936 to 1940 the team played in red and yellow jerseys due to an imposition by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, red and yellow being the official colours of the municipality of Palermo. When the club was refounded in 1941 following a merger with Juventina Palermo, they started dressing light blue shirt on the pitch, switching to the more popular pink and black one year later.
The choice of pink and black as official colours for a football club is still unique today, as Palermo appears to be one of the few top-flight football teams to use these official colours. Another club with these colors is the first division club Sport Boys in Peru.
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|1987–1990||Città di Palermo|
|1992–1993||Giornale di Sicilia|
|1994–1996||Provincia Regionale di Palermo|
|1996–1997||Kappa||Giornale di Sicilia|
|1998–1999||Palermo Provincia Turistica|
|2002–2006||Provincia di Palermo|
Palermo plays its home matches at Stadio Renzo Barbera, located in the Favorita neighbourhood. The stadium was opened in 1932, during the fascist regime, with the name Stadio Littorio (Lictorial Stadium). The inaugural match was played on January 24, 1932, against Atalanta; Palermo won it 5-1. In 1936, it was renamed Stadio Michele Marrone, after a fascist hero who died in the Spanish civil war.
Initially a racetrack was present, and there were no curved sections, but only terraces and a stand. In 1948, following the end of World War II and the fall of the Fascist regime, the stadium assumed the denomination of Stadio La Favorita, after the neighbourhood where it was located, and was also heavily restructured, without racetrack and with two curved sections, thus increasing its capacity to 30,000. In 1984 it was again enlarged, giving a capacity of circa 50,000. This higher capacity was however completely covered in only twice, respectively in a Serie C1 league match against Messina and a friendly match against Juventus. On the occasion of the 1990 FIFA World Cup, the stadium was renovated with the addition of seats, but the capacity, which was reached on only two occasions before 1990, was reduced to 37,619. During the 1989 renovation works, five employees died following the collapse of a section of the stadium. In 2002 the stadium was renamed in honour of Renzo Barbera, legendary Palermo chairman in the 1970s.
Plans to move the club to a new state-of-the-art stadium to be built were recently announced by current Palermo chairman and owner Maurizio Zamparini.
The majority of Palermo supporters come from the city and its neighbourhood. However, Palermo is also widely popular throughout Western Sicily, as well as among Sicilian immigrants in northern Italy, leading Palermo to have one of the largest followings in its away matches. US Palermo supporters, mainly Sicilian emigrants, are also present outside Italy; a number of Palermo fans living in and around the German city of Solingen have even founded a club named after their favourite club, FC Rosaneri, which as of 2007 plays in the Kreisliga B league.
Support for Palermo is closely associated to a strong sense of belonging to Sicily; indeed, it is not uncommon to see Sicilian flags waved by fans and ultras during Palermo matches. Palermo fans are also twinned with Lecce ultras.
Palermo's biggest rivals by far are fellow islanders Catania. Matches between Palermo and Catania are usually referred to as Sicilian derbies, despite the existence of a third valid Sicilian team, Messina, who played in Serie A alongside Palermo and Catania in recent years. Rivalry with Messina, although historically older, is instead less intense than that with Catania.
The 2006–07 return match between Palermo and Catania, played on February 2, 2007 at Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania, is remembered due to the tragic death of policeman Filippo Raciti who was injured during riots between the local police and the Catania supporters. This event led Italian Federation commissioner Luca Pancalli to suspend all football leagues and national team events in the whole country for a couple of weeks.
Not including league playoff matches