MILAN (Reuters) - Italian Serie B leaders Palermo have been sold to an unnamed London-based company for the symbolic price of 10 euros (£8.9), club owner Maurizio Zamparini said on Saturday.
The charismatic Zamparini has been president of the club since 2002 and has employed more than 40 coaches during that time.
"Thinking only of the future of the company and the supporters of Palermo, I have, with a lump in my throat, signed my exit from the club," said the 77-year-old in a letter on the club's website.
"The new London-based owners will put into action the construction of the stadium and training ground.
"Every time I go down to Palermo, I feel the affection and gratitude of the people of Palermo," he said, adding that he was profoundly sad.
Last year, a takeover bid for the Sicilian club from U.S.-born businessman Paul Baccaglini was rejected by Zamparini, more then four months after it was announced that terms had been agreed for the deal.
Languishing in Serie B when Zamparini took over in 2002, pink-shirted Palermo won promotion in 2003-04 as they returned to the top flight after a more than 30-year wait.
In Zamparini’s first few years they routinely finished in the top half of the table, played in the UEFA Cup several times and had four players in Italy’s 2006 World Cup-winning squad.
Players such as Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani and Argentine pair Paulo Dybala and Javier Pastore played at the club early in their careers.
Palermo's fortunes faded after that and they were relegated in 2013 but returned to the top flight at the first attempt.
They narrowly avoided another relegation in 2016 after an extraordinary season in which the club employed seven different coaches, two of them twice, but finally went down in 2016/17.
Palermo currently have a two-point lead over Pescara at the top of Serie B.
Bruno Tedino was left with the dubious honour of being Zamparini’s last sacking when he was dismissed in September after five matches. He was replaced by Roberto Stellone –- who in turn had been dismissed the previous June to make way for Tedino.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Clare Fallon)