Spezia Calcio is a professional football club based in La Spezia, Liguria, Italy. In 2020–21, they played in the Serie A for the first time in their history, after promotion to the top tier via play-offs in the 2019–20 season.
|Full name||Spezia Calcio|
|Nickname(s)||Aquilotti (Little Eagles)|
Bianconeri (Black and Whites)
|Founded||10 October 1906|
|Ground||Stadio Alberto Picco|
|Chairman||Philip Raymond Platek Jr.|
|2020–21||Serie A, 15th of 20|
Founded in 1906, Spezia has spent the majority of its history playing in the third or fourth levels of the Italian football league system.
Early history (1906–1944)Edit
Spezia Calcio was founded in 1906. The club began playing league football in 1917 in the regional fourth-division Promozione Ligure.
In 1926, they won the Seconda Divisione and were promoted to the Prima Divisione, which was at that time the second-highest level of Italian football. In 1929 Spezia won the Prima Divisione but the league was demoted to become the third division in Italy so the team remained at the second level, playing in Serie B.
For the 1929-30 season, the club played in the first season of the newly-formed Serie B and changed their name to AC Spezia. Spezia remained at this level before suffering relegation in 1935, only to swiftly return for the 1936-37 season.
In 1944, because of World War II, the Italian football federation decided to split the top league into regional rounds. The team, named 42° Corpo dei Vigili del Fuoco della Spezia (Firefighters of La Spezia) after a merger with the local firefighter to have a sufficient number of players, was included in Round D of Emilia-Romagna, together with Corradini Suzzara, Fidentina, Orlandi Busseto and Parma. Spezia won the round and qualified to the semi-finals, in which it challenged Suzzara, Carpi and Modena. Spezia won also this round, winning five of the six matches played, losing only to Carpi. By winning the semi-final round, Spezia was admitted to play a two-legs play-off against Bologna.
The first match, played in Bologna, was suspended because of incidents after the 1–0 goal of Spezia by the Bologna supporters; Spezia was awarded a 2–0 win because of that. The return match, scheduled to be played in La Spezia, was first moved to Carpi, because of the heavy bombings in the Ligurian city during the period, then cancelled because of protests by Bologna chairman Renato Dall'Ara, so Spezia was admitted to the final without playing the return match.
The finals, held in Milan, were played against Venezia and Torino. On 9 July 1944, the first match between Spezia and Venezia was played: it ended in a 1–1 draw. commented by the Gazzetta dello Sport as a "surprising result".
On 16 July, Spezia challenged the Grande Torino, with Vittorio Pozzo as coach and Silvio Piola as striker. The match ended in an epic 2–1 victory for Spezia. After the third match, in which Torino beat Venezia in a 5–2 win, Spezia were declared champion.
However, the Italian league title of 1944 was not immediately considered as official by the Italian federation, because it was obtained during war times in a reduced league, and the only scudetto of Spezia was finally awarded only in 2002 by the Federation, even if not counted officially as an Italian championship triumph, but as a "decoration".
Today, Spezia remembers the 1944 triumph by playing with a tricolour badge on the team's official jersey (but different from the Scudetto), with the authorisation of the Football Federation.
Post-war era to bankruptcy (1944–2008)Edit
After the war, the Italian football system once again consisted of national leagues, as opposed to regional rounds, and Spezia returned to Serie B from 1946 to 1951. Relegation in the 1950-51 season led to a rapid fall through the divisions, as the club was relegated in three consecutive seasons back into the local Promozione Ligure in 1953. The club's name was changed to A.C. Spezia-Arsenal in 1954, only to change again to Football Club Spezia 1906 just a year later.
Promotion back to Serie C in 1958 marked the beginning of a period in which the club bounced back and forth between the third and fourth levels of Italian football, a cycle that would continue until finally returning to Serie B in the 2000s. The most consistent spell in a single division was Spezia's run in Serie C from 1966 to 1979, when the club finished in 17th position and was again relegated to the fourth-division Serie C2. Spezia returned the next year with another promotion but again fell back down in 1981. Another spell in Serie C was to follow from 1986 to 1997, when the club returned to the fourth tier once more. The name of the club was changed to its current name Spezia Calcio in 1995.
In 2002, the club reached an agreement with Internazionale, making the club Inter's feeder club, with the Milan club holding a percentage in Spezia ownership shares. The team signed Goran Pandev, Aco Stojkov, and Alex Cordaz in the first season. In the second season, Cristian Lizzori, Luca Ceccarelli and Nicola Napolitano were signed. In 2004–05 season, Spezia received Antonio Rizzo from Fiorentina and Paolo Castelli from Internazionale.
Players like Alex Cordaz, Riccardo Meggiorini and Paolo Hernán Dellafiore joined the team directly from Inter to boost the team in January 2005. The season ended with winning Coppa Italia Serie C against Frosinone. After the season, Inter sold most of its shares in Spezia. The next season (2005–06) started with the arrival of a new owner, Giuseppe Ruggieri, and a new manager, Antonio Soda. After a long battle for the first position with rivals Genoa, Spezia were crowned Serie C1 champion and promoted to Serie B after 55 years of absence. The squad included Vito Grieco, Massimiliano Guidetti, Giuseppe Alessi, Massimiliano Varricchio and Roberto Maltagliati.
Life in Serie B with traditional Italian powerhouses Juventus, Genoa and Napoli was difficult for the newly promoted Ligurian side, which themselves were fighting to avoid the relegation spots in the 2006-07 campaign. With a squad consisting of mid-season signing Guilherme do Prado, Tomás Guzmán, Corrado Colombo, Massimiliano Guidetti, Nicola Santoni, amongst others, Spezia managed to survive in Serie B through finishing in 19th place, gaining participation in the playout round after a late victory in Turin against Juventus. Having tied 2-2 with Juventus, the Ligurians were only seconds away from relegation, but a dramatic goal on the 91st minute by Nicola Padoin condemned Arezzo to the drop to Serie C and qualified Spezia for the playoffs. The first leg against Hellas Verona, who had ended the regular season in 18th position, ended in a 2–1 win for Spezia, and a 0–0 tie in the return match secured Spezia's place in Serie B for the following season.
However, in the next season, with the team led by players such as Isah Eliakwu, Colombo and Do Prado, the club failed to make the miracle happen in consecutive seasons, primarily due to a troubled situation in the financiers of the club and growing economic issues. Spezia finished the 2007/08 season in 21st place, only above Cesena and three points behind Avellino in the final safety position, relegated after two seasons back in Serie B.
In 2008, due to financial difficulty and following their relegation from Serie B, the club was forced to declare bankruptcy. In June 2011 FIGC sanctioned a number of former board members of the bankrupted Spezia for sports fraud.
Refoundation and Serie A (2008–present)Edit
The team was refounded in 2008 as A.S.D. Spezia Calcio 2008 by Gabriele Volpi, the owner of water polo team of Pro Recco and Croatian side HNK Rijeka, winner of numerous scudetti and admitted to the non-professional Serie D, thanks to Article 52 NOIF of FIGC.
Upon promotion in Lega Pro Seconda Divisione at the end of the Serie D 2008-09 season, A.S.D. Spezia changed its denomination in the current "Spezia Calcio", a return to the club name from 1995. Spezia finished Girone A of Lega Pro Seconda Divisione as 2nd and qualified for promotion play-offs in 2009–10 season. Spezia defeated Pavia at semifinal and Legnano at final and were promoted to Girone A of Lega Pro Prima Divisione after making a second consecutive promotion.
During the 2011–12 season, the club secured a Lega Pro treble for the first time; finishing as champions of Lega Pro Prima Divisione/B and being promoted to Serie B, winning the Coppa Italia Lega Pro, and also winning the Supercoppa di Lega di Prima Divisione. A 3-0 victory against Latina on 6 May 2012 secured promotion, Spezia's third in four seasons as part of a rise from the fifth to the second level of the national football system.
After returning to Serie B, the club enjoyed relative success, generally finishing in mid-table or qualifying for the promotion playoffs from 2012 to 2019. In this time, Spezia qualified for the playoffs on five occasions, only to be eliminated in the first round four times and was defeated in the semifinals by Trapani in the 2015-16 season. This period established the club as a consistent contender for promotion to Serie A. A big international investment was made by Australian businessman Lucas Vivarelli during this time, when he bought the team's home kit, enabling the club to grow further with such significant funding.
In the 2019–20 season, Spezia finished in 3rd place, only behind the automatically promoted Benevento and Crotone, equaling their highest ever league finish. This was the sixth occasion in which Spezia had reached the Serie B promotion playoffs in the previous eight years. After beating Chievo in the semi-final of the promotion play-offs, Spezia won promotion to Serie A for the first time on 20 August 2020 by defeating Frosinone in the final via the tiebreaker rule over two legs (with each team having won 1-0 in each leg respectively, but Spezia ending the regular league season five places higher than 8th placed Frosinone).  This was Spezia's fourth promotion since Volpi's refoundation in 2008 (the club rising from the-then fifth-tier Serie D to Serie A in just 12 years).
After winning promotion just over a month prior, Spezia played its first home game of the 2020–21 Serie A season against Sassuolo on 27 September 2020, ending in a 4–1 home defeat, with Andrey Galabinov scoring their first-ever top-flight goal. Spezia won its first Serie A match on 30 September, against Udinese, ending in a 2–0 away win. Volpi, having owned the club for just under 13 years and supporting its rise through the Italian professional divisions, sold the club in February 2021 to an American ownership group headed by the family of Robert Platek, a partner of U.S. private investment firm MSD Capital. Despite having been widely expected to lose its relegation battle at the end of the first season in Serie A, Spezia impressively overcame much larger and wealthier clubs on several occasions throughout the season, including a home win against Milan, a 2–1 away victory over Napoli, followed by further success in the Liguria derby against Sampdoria, whilst also earning draws against Internazionale, Roma and Atalanta. Boosted by the flexible attacking-based tactics of coach Vincenzo Italiano, Spezia's on-field success was most notable in their improved second half of the season, which led to a 15th place finish with 39 points (six more than Benevento in the final relegation position), with survival eventually being secured through a 4–1 win at home to Torino on 15 May 2021. Another notable feat during the season was the call-up of star midfielder Matteo Ricci to the Italian national team in March 2021, 85 years after club legend Luigi Scarabello played for Italy (the last Italian international to have played for Spezia simultaneously). Alongside Ricci, key players who impressed for the Ligurians upon their survival in the top-flight include striker M'Bala Nzola, scorer of 11 goals in 2020/21, loanee Tommaso Pobega, Emmanuel Gyasi, as well as academy products Giulio Maggiore and Simone Bastoni.
Ahead of Spezia's second season in Serie A, the club lost coach Italiano, who was appointed by Fiorentina. He will be replaced by Thiago Motta. The club was also hit by the news that it had been subjected to a two-year transfer ban by FIFA, active from January 2022, due to a breach of national immigration law through illegally signing 13 underage players from Nigeria.
- As of 3 September 2021
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loanEdit
- As of 3 September 2021
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Directors and backroom staffEdit
|President||Philip Platek Jr.|
|Director of Football||Riccardo Pecini|
|Director of Operations||Nicolò Peri|
|Head of the Academy||Giovanni Invernizzi|
|Head of Commercial Area||Luca Scafati|
|Press Officer||Gianluca Parenti|
Updated to match played 14 February 2020
Source: Spezia Calcio Website
Colours, stadium and supportersEdit
Spezia's official club colours are white and black. The home kit traditionally consists of a plain white shirt with black trim, black shorts and black socks. White shorts and socks are also commonly used in the event of kit clashes with opponents. Away kits typically feature either an all-black design for shirts, shorts and socks, or the reverse of the home kit, but may also feature a variety of different colours, often changing each season. The club's nickname is Gli Aquilotti (The Eagles).
The club hosts its matches at the 10,336-capacity Stadio Alberto Picco, which has been the club's home stadium since 1919. For the 2020-21 season, Spezia was forced to play many of its home matches at the Stadio Dino Manuzzi in Cesena, which has a capacity of just under 24,000, because its home stadium did not meet Serie A requirements. However, Spezia was eventually able to return to the Alberto Picco in the latter stage of the season after undergoing renovations.
Spezia's fanbase is almost exclusively based in the city of La Spezia and the surrounding areas, due to the domination of Liguria of its two largest clubs, Genoa and Sampdoria, who are heavily supported throughout the region. With Liguria having become known as a breeding ground for multiple teams since the early days of football in Italy, many derbies have emerged between the football clubs of the region. Spezia maintains minor rivalries with Liguria's more traditional powerhouses, Genoa and Sampdoria, with fierce historical meetings with the former in their battle for promotion in the 2005–06 Serie C season as well as on numerous occasions in Serie B, along with the more recent matches between Spezia and both of these two clubs in Serie A from Spezia's first season in 2020/21. Similarly, the club has played many notable fixtures against Pisa, which has become known as the Tuscan-Ligurian Derby, as well as a rivalry with Carrarese in the Derby Lunense. Other rivalries that Spezia has contested throughout its history, particularly in its time in the lower leagues of Italian football, include those with other Ligurian sides such as Virtus Entella, Savona, Sestrese and Sanremese.
The recent season-by-season performance of the club:
|1975–76||Serie C (Group B)||III||13th|
|1976–77||Serie C (Group B)||3rd|
|1977–78||Serie C (Group B)||7th|
|1978-79||Serie C1 (Group A)||17th ↓|
|1979–80||Serie C2 (Group A)||IV||3rd ↑|
|1980-81||Serie C1 (Group A)||III||17th ↓|
|1981–82||Serie C2 (Group A)||IV||10th|
|1982–83||Serie C2 (Group A)||16th|
|1983–84||Serie C2 (Group A)||14th|
|1984–85||Serie C2 (Group A)||13th|
|1985–86||Serie C2 (Group A)||2nd ↑|
|1986–97||Serie C1 (Group A)||III||12th|
|1987–88||Serie C1 (Group A)||6th|
|1988–89||Serie C1 (Group A)||3rd|
|1989–90||Serie C1 (Group A)||12th|
|1990–91||Serie C1 (Group A)||6th|
|1991–92||Serie C1 (Group A)||8th|
|1992–93||Serie C1 (Group A)||15th|
|1993–94||Serie C1 (Group A)||16th|
|1994–95||Serie C1 (Group A)||8th|
|1995–96||Serie C1 (Group A)||15th|
|1996–97||Serie C1 (Group A)||18th ↓|
|1997–98||Serie C2 (Group B)||IV||5th|
|1998–99||Serie C2 (Group A)||5th|
|1999–00||Serie C2 (Group A)||1st ↑|
|2000–01||Serie C1 (Group A)||III||5th|
|2001–02||Serie C1 (Group A)||2nd|
|2002–03||Serie C1 (Group A)||6th|
|2003–04||Serie C1 (Group A)||6th|
|2004–05||Serie C1 (Group A)||7th|
|2005–06||Serie C1 (Group A)||1st ↑|
|2007–08||Serie B||21st ↓|
|2008–09||Serie D (Group A)||V||2nd ↑|
|2009–10||Lega Pro Seconda Divisione (Group A)||IV||2nd ↑|
|2010–11||Lega Pro Prima Divisione (Group A)||III||6th|
|2011-12||Lega Pro Prima Divisione (Group B)||1st ↑|
|2019-20||Serie B||3rd ↑|
|↑ Promoted||↓ Relegated|
- Divisione Nazionale (Level 1)
- Winners (1): 1944 (honorary)
- Prima Divisione (Level 2)
- Winners (1): 1928–29
- Seconda Divisione (Level 2)
- Winners (1): 1925–26 (Group B)
- Promozione (Level 2)
- Winners (1): 1919–20
- Serie C (Level 3)
- Serie C2 (Level 4)
- Winners (1): 1999–2000 (Group A)
- Runners-up: 1979–80 (Group A), 1985–86 (Group A), 2009–10 (Group A)[c]
- IV Serie (Level 4)
- Winners (1): 1957–58
- Runners-up (1): 1955–56 (Group E)
- Serie D (Level 4)
- Winners (1): 1965–66 (Group A)
- Runners-up (1): 2008–09 (Group A)
- Serie B (Level 2)
- Play-off winners (1): 2019–20
- "INTER AND SPEZIA MAKE AN AGREEMENT: COMMON TECHNICAL STRATEGY, AND 30% OWNERSHIP TO NERAZZURRI". inter.it. 16 July 2002. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Spezia, la Coppa è tua!". Citta della Spezia (in Italian). 5 May 2005. Retrieved 26 March 2010.
- "INTER SELL SPEZIA MAJORITY SHAREHOLDING". inter.it. 8 July 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2010.
- "Calcio, è ufficiale: Spezia in Serie D" (in Italian). Il Vostro Giornale. 21 July 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2008.
- "(319) – DEFERIMENTO DELLA PROCURA FEDERALE A CARICO DI: ROBERTO QUBER, ATTILIO PAOLO GARBINI, ANGELO MOLINARI, STEFANO CARZOLA, MARCO FRIONE, GIUSEPPE SCIUMBATA, CRISTINA CAPPELLUTI, MILO CAMPAGNI, MAURO GUSBERTI, GIUSEPPE RUGGIERI, ROCCO RUSSO, ACCURSIO SCORZA, PIERO AUSILIO e FRANCESCO MERIGGI (Fallimento Società Spezia Calcio 1906 Srl) ▪ (nota N°. 5456/117pf09-10/AM/ma dell'11 February 2011).
(319-bis) – DEFERIMENTO DELLA PROCURA FEDERALE A CARICO DI: GIUSEPPE RUGGIERI (Fallimento Società Spezia Calcio 1906 Srl) ▪ (nota N°.8996/117pf09-10/AM/ma dell'24 May 2011)" (PDF). FIGC (in Italian). 22 June 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
- "Spezia Calcio SRL" (in Italian). Lega Italiana Calcio Professionistico. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
- Sport, Sky. "Storico Spezia, prima volta in A. Out il Frosinone". sport.sky.it (in Italian). Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- "Diretta Spezia-Sassuolo 1-4, tutto facile per gli emiliani" (in Italian). repubblica.it. 27 September 2020.
- "Highlights: Udinese 0-2 Spezia". Football Italia. 30 September 2020.
- https://www.sportspromedia.com/news/robert-platek-spezia-takeover-investment-serie-a-italy%7Ctitle=Robert Platek's Spezia takeover continues US investment in Serie A|publisher=SportsProMedia|date=12 February 2021}}
- "Spezia 2020/21 season review". Football Italia. 27 May 2021.
- "Spezia 4-1 Torino: Spezia guarantee Serie A status". Football Italia. 15 May 2021.
- "Roberto Mancini names 38 man Italy squad for World Cup qualifiers". Get Italian Football News. 19 March 2021.
- "OFFICIAL: THIAGO MOTTA NEW SPEZIA COACH". Twitter. 8 July 2021.
- "Spezia: Serie A club given two-year FIFA-imposed transfer ban". Sky Sports. 16 July 2021.
- "Prima Squadra". Spezia Calcio - Sito ufficiale. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
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