Plateks complete Spezia takeover, U.S. influence in Serie A grows

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ROME (Reuters) - Spezia became the fifth Serie A club to be run by an American ownership group on Thursday after the Platek family completed their purchase of the Italian soccer team.

Gabriele Volpi agreed to sell the club outright to the family from New York after steering Spezia to their first ever season in the Italian top flight.

The Liguria-based club become the sixth Serie A team under north American ownership. AC Milan, Fiorentina, AS Roma and Parma are American-owned and Canadian Joey Saputo is in charge at Bologna.

"Serie A football is in an elite class of its own, and it has been our long-held ambition to find the right opportunity to partner with a special club in Italy," the Plateks said in a statement.

Spezia are performing better than expected in Serie A this season following their promotion from the second tier and are 16th in the standings, six points clear of the relegation zone.

Coach Vincenzo Italiano has been key to their success.

"It was important for the family to keep in place the current management team that achieved the club’s promotion from Serie B," the Platek statement added.

"As such, all club management, including current President, Stefano Chisoli, Sport Director, Mauro Meluso and Manager, Vincenzo Italiano will remain in their positions."

Robert Platek is a partner at U.S. private investment firm MSD Capital. The family statement said the investment in Spezia was personal and unrelated to the company.

The Plateks bought Danish Superliga side SønderjyskE Fodbold last year and have also invested in second tier Portuguese club Casa Pia.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Ed Osmond)