The era of the Della Valle, from C2 to A: 2002/2004


Fiorentina were reborn, and after two years returned to Serie A. The new Fiorentina was born on August 2nd 2002, the day after the club failed to enter the Serie B championship for that year; the club’s honours were then acquired by the new ownership. It was a typical entrepreneurial move from Diego Della Valle, who submitted the required prerequisites to the Mayor of Florence, Leonardo Domenici, and in a matter of days sealed the deal, beating competition from other potential buyers and winning over the fans, proof of which came with the 20,000 season tickets sold as the side prepared for a season in the fourth division C2. The team needed complete rebuilding from scratch, and after the predictably uphill start, culminating with the sacking of coach Pietro Vierchowod (on October 28th 2002 after a defeat to Grosseto), the side began moving towards their declared target, a return to the Serie A in three years. The arrival of Alberto Cavasin (October 29th 2002) and a strong return on the winter transfer market allowed the side to clinch first place after the first half of the season, level on points with Rimini. After the win against Rimini on February 24th, Fiorentina held top spot until they clinched promotion to Serie C1 on April 27th with a 3-0 win over Savona, in front of a sold out Franchi stadium. At the end of the season, Diego Della Valle made yet another gift to the fans: on May 15th he spent two and a half million euros at auction to acquire the symbol and colours of the old A.C. Fiorentina. As the team prepared for the C-1 championship  and for the Coppa Italia of Serie C, on August 20th 2003a shock decision affected the club: after a summer of TAR appeals and verdicts from penal and civil courts, Italian football witnessed a real revolution, with Serie B expanding from 20 to 24 teams. The relegated sides Catania, Genoa and Salernitana were reinstated into the division, and the 24th   spot was awarded to Fiorentina for sporting merits and support after Cosenza had failed to officiate their entry. The club found itself having to organise hurriedly for a season in Serie B, the start of which was postponed to September 11th. The Viola’s first game was a 1-1 home draw against Triestina. The campaign started negatively due to a lack of cohesion in the side, resulting from so many players arriving late, but they remained in a mid-table position. In the January transfer window the team saw a revolution, due to the work of Fabrizio Lucchesi, who had become an organising director, and of Giovanni Galli. The team started January well, but before long the mistakes from the early part of the season began to resurface and resulted in a change in coach on February 11th, as Cavasin was sacked and replaced by Mondonico. The man from Rivolta d’Adda averaged over 2 points per game, a great achievement, and guided the side to a sixth place finish, earning the right to a play-off match against Cosmi’s Perugia. The Viola won 1-0 at the Curi stadium, through a Fantini goal on the counter-attack; and after being on the back-foot in the dying minutes of the second leg, they drew 1-1 at the Franchi. It was done. Fiorentina were back in Serie A.      


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