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 By Ben Gladwell

Joe Tacopina, Montreal Impact's Joey Saputo near purchase deal for Bologna

Cash-strapped Serie B club Bologna are nearing a sale to a North American group.

New York lawyer Joe Tacopina is set to become the club president, with Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo the largest investor.

Tacopina and Saputo will reportedly make an initial investment of 13 million euros ($16.5 million) plus provide a seven million euros payout to the club's previous owners.

Since 2010, Bologna have been held by a consortium including coffee maker Massimo Zanetti.

The pending deal has led league authorities to delay deciding on a one-point penalty for Bologna for failed player payments for several months this year.

Bologna, who have been Serie A champions seven times, were relegated at the end of last season. The club stand fifth in Serie B, which would be good enough to enter a promotion playoff at the end of this season.

Bologna's last Serie A title came in 1964.

The deal will make Bologna the third major Italian club with foreign-majority ownership. Roma were taken over by a group of Boston investors three years ago, and Indonesian entrepeneur Erick Thohir took a majority stake in Inter Milan last year.

Tacopina, who represents New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez in his drug case, resigned from his position on Roma's board to pursue the Bologna deal.

The new owners are due to be presented on Thursday.

"I'm going to be in the stands on Saturday to follow the team, but next year, I want us to be playing on Sundays -- in Serie A," said the 48-year-old in Bologna on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Tacopina and his partners will make the first payment of six million euros to take control of the club.

His arrival is seen as a necessary boost to a club who were relegated to the second division last summer.

"The signing of this contract and consequent purchase of Bologna by American and Canadian investors is great news," said the mayor of Bologna Virginio Merola in Il Resto del Carlino. "I'm really pleased for the club and for the city.

"This is a substantial investment in Bologna and this is something which makes us all proud and gives us hope for a future rich in satisfaction, starting with a return to Serie A. I can only repeat what I already told the lawyer Tacopina and Mr. [Joey] Saputo when we first met -- that they have the full support of the city council with their projects to re-launch the club and the team."

Former professional footballer Katia Serra, who represents women's and amateur football in the Italian Professional Footballers' Association (AIC), tweeted a picture of Tacopina signing on the dotted line in Bologna.

Tacopina and the new owners, which will include former Bologna striker Marco Di Vaio once he concludes his playing career, aim to bring an air of serenity to the club following a turbulent few years which culminated in their relegation.

However, he was involved in a court case of his own in the summer after being accused of abusing pain medication and having affairs while representing a client, who was jailed for murder. 

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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