Franck Ribery may be 38 years old, but he’s still playing in a top 5 league. Since leaving Bayern Munich in 2019, the Frenchman has found success in Serie A with the likes of Fiorentina and now US Salernitana. However, that streak might be coming to an end, for reasons totally beyond his control.
According to Italian FA boss Gabriele Gravina, Salernitana will be kicked out of the league if they cannot find a new buyer by December 31 (via ESPN). The issue comes from the fact that their owner, Claudio Lotito, already owned another Serie A team in Lazio. Ownership of multiple teams in the same division is forbidden by league rules, and Salernitana have yet to find a buyer.
This entire situation is honestly a little baffling, for an outside observer. The following questions come to mind:
- Since the ownership conflict was known well before the season began, why was Salernitana allowed to compete in the division in the first place?
- If the team is kicked out of the league at the halfway mark, what happens to their remaining matches? What happens to the matches they already played? Do they get sent to Serie B immediately, or only at the start of next season?
- What happens to the players who are signed for Salernitana? Can they leave the club for free?
This is obviously a pretty awful situation for the club to be in, and it’s not really the fault of the fans or the players. Serie A probably never should’ve allowed this situation to arise in the first place. Per Football Italia, the price of the club has been lowered to €15m to entice a buyer. Still, it will surely be a struggle to sell an entire football club in just two days.
For Ribery personally, this news will definitely come as a blow. At 38, there are very few clubs left who would be willing to take a gamble on the Frenchman, even though he has a couple of assists for Saleritana this season. If Saleritana do get expelled from Serie A and Ribery can’t find a new club in January, he may be forced to retire before he feels ready.