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Friday, January 6, 2006
Parma set deadline for Sanz to become new owner

ROME, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz has been given a deadline of Jan. 15 to complete a deal that would make him the new owner of Italian Serie A club Parma.

'The deadline for paying the balance of the price has been fixed as January 15,' Parma president Guido Angiolini was quoted as saying in La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.

'If, by the 16th, the deal with the (Sanz) family has not been closed, we will set about finding a new buyer.'

Sanz has seemed the most likely buyer of the club since last August when he made an initial payment of 7.5 million euros ($9.07 million) on the full price of 27.5 million. However, he has not yet paid the outstanding 20 million.

Parma has been searching for a new owner since their parent company, Italian food group Parmalat, collapsed in December 2003 during an accounting fraud scandal.

The club's fans initially welcomed Sanz's interest in the hope that he could revitalise their side's fortunes.

Sanz was president of Real Madrid from 1995 to 2000, during which time the team won the Primera Liga in 1997 and the UEFA Champions League in 1998 and 2000.

Parma were one of the strongest clubs in Italy during the 1990s when they twice finished runners-up in Serie A and won the UEFA Cup in 1995 and 1999, but the demise of Parmalat led to an exodus of many of its top players and hit results on the pitch.

Last season Parma came dangerously close to losing their top-flight status, beating Bologna in an end-of-season playoff to avoid relegation.

The uncertainty over the club's future has become a source of increasing frustration for Parma's sporting director, Oreste Cinquini, who complained that he had been unable to make the necessary moves in the January transfer window to help Parma out of its precarious position in Serie A.

They currently lie 16th out of 20 teams, two points above the relegation zone.

'This situation is having an effect on our ability to bring in new players,' Cinquini said.

'We've been searching for a new striker, but everything is on hold until we find out what funds are available in 10 days time. Meanwhile, all we can do is wait for further developments.'

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