The top division football team, Neuchâtel Xamax, is about to fall into foreign hands. Because of financial difficulties, the board has agreed to sell a 50 per cent stake to the Italian businessman, Gian Paola Bonora.
In a deal due to be signed on Thursday in Bologna, Bonora will inject SFr850,000 into the club for a trial period running to the end of the season on June 30.
If he is satisfied with Xamax's results on the field over this period, he will then make a further SFr400,000 available to secure 50 per cent of the club.
The board accepted Bonora's conditions to escape the prospect of prolonged financial strife and a lack of positive results on the field if the deal fell through. Initially, its members wanted him to buy 51 per cent of the club immediately.
With the Neuchâtel side facing possible relegation, this means there are no long-term guarantees at this point in time.
The entrepreneur wants to bring in a new trainer, Bologna's former manager Renato Villa. Alain Geiger, the current trainer, will most certainly have to sit out the remainder of his contract, which ends this season.
Five new players will also join the team. Italians Enrico Annoni and Dario Morello are almost sure of playing in Switzerland this spring.
Villa also hopes to attract Kubilay Türkyilmaz, who was part of his Bologna team in the early nineties. The Swiss international is playing for Brescia in the Serie A.
Bonora is the owner of Grip Italia, a company that has organised sports events for the past 20 years. His experience with football clubs is limited to Italian lower division sides.
Xamax are the fourth side from French-speaking Switzerland to be taken over by a foreign investor. In the first division, only Yverdon remain in Swiss hands.
swissinfo with agencies
In compliance with the JTI standards