Italian-American businessman Commisso becomes new Fiorentina owner

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Rocco Commisso speaks to reporters during a news conference. (Seth Wenig/AP)

MILAN — Italian-American businessman Rocco Commisso completed his takeover of Serie A club Fiorentina on Thursday.

No financial details were disclosed but the deal is reportedly worth about 160 million euros ($181 million).

"I’ve always been a fan of Italian football and there are no words to describe how incredibly honoured I am to have the opportunity to help write the next chapter in the history of such a legendary club as Fiorentina," Commisso said.

Commisso, who also owns the New York Cosmos of the National Premier Soccer League, tried to buy AC Milan last year. He said he has been in negotiations to buy Fiorentina for three years.

"Over the past three years in which I’ve been in contact to buy the club, I’ve built up a deep understanding of just how important ‘La Viola’ is for this city and its fans," Commisso said.

Fiorentina becomes the fifth Serie A club to come under foreign ownership after Milan (U.S.-based hedge fund Elliott Management), Inter Milan (Chinese retail group Suning), Roma (American businessman James Pallotta) and Bologna (Canadian businessman Joey Saputo).

More than half of the 20 Premier League clubs in England are under foreign ownership.

"I’m bringing my passion, my Italianness," Commisso said. "Out of these Americans who have bought Italian clubs, from Pallotta to Saputo, I am the only one who was born in Italy. I live and die for the Italy national team, since I left this country as a child."

The Della Valle family had owned Fiorentina for 17 years.

Fiorentina finished in 16th place last season, three points off the relegation zone. It was the team’s lowest Serie A finish since 2004-05, which was its first season back in the top Italian division since being refounded in 2002 after bankruptcy.

"It wasn’t the best offer for us but it was for Fiorentina," Diego Della Valle said. "We have sold Fiorentina to a person we believe is the most qualified out of all the people that seriously expressed their interest.

"He knows soccer. We hope he does good things, we are sure he will."

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