The 90’s was a prestigious era for Lazio. The club was purchased in 1992 by Sergio Cragnotti, who was an ambitious and bold owner. He did whatever it took to win championships and have a club that was successful not only in domestic competitions but internationally as well.
The 1990s & Early 2000s
Lazio in the 90s was an elite squad with some of the best players in Serie A. Millions of dollars were invested into the club in order to compete against clubs such as Juventus, Milan and Inter. Lazio purchased players such as Hernán Crespo, Christian Vieri, Sinisa Mihajlović, and ex-manager, Simone Inzaghi.
Aside from many marquee signings, Lazio hired former Fiorentina Coach, Sven-Göran Eriksson, in 1997. However, many of their big investments joined prior to the manager’s arrival, yet the Biancocelesti only came as close as second place in the standings for the Scudetto.
In 1998, Lazio won the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup and in the season after, they fell short of winning the Scudetto by a point against Milan. In 2000, Lazio played fluid and brilliant football which was entertaining. They achieved the double that season as they won the Scudetto and the European Super Cup.
The 1999/00 squad has always been remembered as one of the best teams in Lazio’s era.
The End of the Sergio Cragnotti Era
Up until 2002, Lazio established themselves as one of the best clubs. However, in 2002, Cragnotti’s spending started to catch up to him and the club was negatively impacted.
Corruption allegations put them in a horrible situation and they failed to maintain their elite status and contend with the top clubs in Europe. Due to financial problems, they had to sell players such as Crespo, Veron and fan favourite, Alessandro Nesta, who joined their rivals, Milan.
Although Lazio were going through a difficult period, the year after, they won their fourth Coppa Italia with a less talented squad. The financial constraints on the club didn’t hold them back from winning and succeeding during a dull period.
In 2002, a period of uncertainty was set to begin for the Biancocelesti. Cragnotti went through a financial scandal and was forced to sell Lazio while his company, Cirio, filed for bankruptcy. When this occurred, the team was controlled by caretaker financial managers and a bank pool.
Claudio Lotito’s Arrival
In 2004, entrepreneur Claudio Lotito purchased a majority of S.S. Lazio and this meant that a new era would begin for the club. When Lotito took over Lazio, he was left with a budget of €84 million in revenue, €86 million in losses and €55 million in debts. Lotito accepted a daunting challenge with their budget constraints, and since his coming, has delivered stability to the club.
Lotito has owned Lazio for 17 years, and while some fans haven’t always been fond of him, most would agree that he salvaged the club. During the 2018/19 season, Lazio’s financial situation vastly improved as they made €38 million in revenue.
The financial situation for Lazio recently hasn’t been an area of concern and, in the past two seasons, the club has managed to deal with the crisis of the pandemic. They have been able to pay their players and staff, avoid layoffs and retain their star players in order to remain competitive. Many clubs have struggled economically and financially due to the impact of COVID-19.
Prior to the pandemic, many clubs faced financial restrictions and penalties due to breaking Financial Fair Play regulations. Rather than overspending as other teams have done in past seasons, Lotito has brought a winning team with a combination of high-calibre players, academy players and those who are under the radar.
In Lotito’s time, he has brought notable players such as Miroslav Klose, Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic Savic. He has also brought in sought-after Sporting Director, Igli Tare, his right-hand man. The two together have made impactful signings and deals in the Lotito era, winning both the Coppa Italia and the Supercoppa Italiana three times.
Back in the summer of 2019, Lotito talked about the future of Lazio to Lazio Style Channel.
I think the club has made real efforts to form a competitive squad next year… The fact we are second only to Juventus in Italy for the number of trophies won in recent years shows we have created a sense of stability. The difference now is that Lazio fans feel secure going into the future and our growth from here on cannot help but be exponential.
We’re very proud to have taken over 15 years ago with Lazio on the verge of bankruptcy with over 500 million euros in debt and over time proving the skeptics wrong, as we built the foundations on concrete and not sand. Look at how many clubs are now struggling or have been wiped out. We set the example for many in Italy.
Fast forward to the present moment and Lazio still remain competitive. The future of the club looks encouraging as they’ve managed to retain key players such as Luis Alberto, Milinkovic-Savic and Ciro Immobile over five consecutive seasons. Several people expected Milinkovic-Savic to be sold season after season yet that hasn’t been the case and shows an ambitious side to Lazio.
Although the past two transfer windows haven’t been successful for Lazio, the current transfer market has been more positive. The likes of Felipe Anderson, Elseid Hysah, Pedro and Toma Basic have arrived to Lazio. The club is far from done as they plan to sell those who are not part of their future plans and bring in the necessary funds to buy new players.
In addition, Maurizio Sarri replaced Simone Inzaghi, who left to join Inter. The club brought in a quality manager and showed the ambition to not take a step back. Sarri’s track record speaks for itself as he’s won a league title and European competition, is tactical and has the ability to get his teams to play at a higher level. Having a manager of his status sends a strong statement to fans that this club is aiming to grow for the foreseeable future.
It’s been a successful 17 years under Lotito. Lazio has developed stability, won multiple trophies, remained in Serie A, and continues to compete with the other top teams in the league.