Credit: Varesenoi.it
Credit Varesenoi.it

During the pandemic in the spring of 2020, the future for the Italian club Pallacanestro Varese didn't look particularly bright. There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the club's future, and the financial outlook wasn't exactly encouraging.

Luis Scola

Luis  Scola
Position: PF
Age: 42
Height: 206 cm
Weight: 111 kg
Birth place: Buenos Aires, Argentina

But in less than 2 years, the situation in Varese changed quite a bit. Argentinian legend Luis Scola decided to play his last professional season in Varese, and right after, he became the CEO of the club, immediately trying to push for changes.

Recently, Scola became the club's majority owner, buying 51% of the shares. Since his appointment as the new head of the club, Scola started searching for other investors who could've helped him give more stability to Varese's project.

Last week, a new phase of the project began with the arrival of the Australian/Italian investor Ross Pelligra, who bought 45% of the shares of the club and will work alongside Scola to bring Varese to the old splendors. 

For those who don't know much about the history of Italian basketball, you have to realize that Pallacanestro Varese is the third team in league titles won (10), only behind the two powerhouses Olimpia Milan and Virtus Bologna.

Between the 60's and the '70s, Varese was one of the major forces of European basketball, winning 5 Champions Leagues and 3 Intercontinental Cups.

Of course, now we're in very different times, and the idea of reaching those highs again is quite difficult, but with the arrival of the new investors, there's definitely room for hope. 

Pelligra was officially introduced as a new member of the board of directors of Pallacanestro Varese last week. At the introductory press conference, Giancarlo Giorgetti, minister of the Italian government, was also the present, as he's in charge of economic development.

The Australian/Italian investor is the head of a huge real estate group, which was created by his family. Pelligra's father and grandfather were both born and raised in Solarino, a small town near Siracusa, while Pelligra's mother is from Catania.

His Sicilian roots also pushed him to buy the football club Calcio Catania, a historical team who had recently fallen under the weight of the debts. 

Publicly, Pelligra didn't talk about numbers and the type of financial commitment he'll put inside the club, but multiple sources have told BasketNews that the plan for the Pelligra's group is to invest around 10 million euros in the next five years.

Part of that money will come under sponsorship deals, while the rest of the capital will be invested in the team. 

"We want to continue the great history of this club," Pelligra said during the introductory press conference. "We'll work hard with Luis Scola and his people to bring back Varese to the highest peak of its glorious history."

The team plans to renovate the arena with funds from national and local governments, and Pelligra is extremely interested in managing the structure. 

The local authorities are more than willing to work together with Pelligra, although the bureaucracy could complicate the situation and extend the timing of the project to renovate the arena. 

The new investor will immediately pour €2 million inside the club as a result of the capital increase. In the meantime, Openjobmetis was officially confirmed as the team's title sponsor for next season. Now, it's time to find a new head coach and start building the roster. 

The dream scenario for the head coaching job would be to recruit Pablo Prigioni, who's currently working as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

But despite a great relationship between Prigioni and Scola, it's unlikely that the former Baskonia head coach will leave the NBA to join Varese. Another option for the head coaching job is John Lucas III, who played in Italy during his professional career and is now an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Varese is looking for a coach who can work well with a group of young players and focus on players' development. That's why they're scouting the NBA and G League market. 

Regarding the roster for next season, Varese has shown interest in Matt Mobley, sources told BasketNews.

Mobley spent the past season in Spain with Zaragoza, averaging 10.3 points per game. However, Varese's star of the season, Marcus Keene, is expected to leave the Italian club and join Strasbourg. 

While a new golden era with multiple domestic and European titles is unlikely to happen, nevertheless, there's some hope in Varese that the situation can improve substantially under the new management led by Luis Scola and Ross Pelligra.

Only time will tell, but after years of uncertainty, there's new hope for Pallacanestro Varese. 

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