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Family, fun, football: A Concordia grad buys into the beautiful game

How businessman Angelo Pasto’s newfound passion led to an investment in an Italian soccer team
June 5, 2023
By Doug Sweet

Man wearing glasses pictured with large trophy cup Angelo Pasto, BA 89, part owner of the Italian soccer team Campobasso 1919, pictured with the Coppa Italia Molise that his team won on February 5.

Like son, like father.

Despite his Italian roots, Angelo Pasto, BA 89, wasn’t really a soccer fan — until his then-18-year-old son Aiden started following teams in his father’s native country a couple of years ago.

Today, Pasto — who owns Montreal real-estate management firm Stanford Properties Group — is part owner of a team from his family’s home region, Molise, near Naples, that’s trying to claw its way back into top-tier contention after experiencing financial disaster and relegation to the lower rungs of the Italian soccer ladder.

And he’s over the moon about it.

“I’m very proud to be part of it,” Pasto says. In early March, he was in Campobasso, Italy, to witness “his” team, Campobasso 1919, cruise to a 6-0 blowout win. “It was a really great experience!”

It was the first time Pasto had seen the team in person since becoming a minority owner in fall 2022. “They’re so nice. They treated us so well. And they’re working so hard!”

Soccer players congregate on the pitch with mountains in the background Campobasso playing against Virtus Gioiese in Capriati al Volturno.

The team sits in first place in Italy’s Eccellenza (fifth tier), but hopes a strong showing this year will catapult it back to the Serie D (fourth tier), with the goal of returning to the Serie C (third tier), a level it had achieved in 2021 before being kicked down to the fifth tier over an unpaid tax bill. The comeback drama echoes the fictional travails of London team AFC Richmond in the Emmy-winning sitcom Ted Lasso, with similar underdog appeal.

Last November, TV personality Kelly Ripa and her husband, actor Mark Consuelos, joined the team’s principal owner, U.S.-based North Sixth Group, with a minority stake in the club. “We fell in love with the Campobasso project and the story,” Ripa told Forbes at the time.

Campobasso 1919 has the built-in advantage of having played at a higher level in recent years, although, as Pasto notes, “we had to start from scratch” in hiring a new coach and a number of players.

“It wasn’t scary at all,” he adds.

‘It’s bringing us closer as a family’

While Pasto emigrated to Montreal in 1967, when he was only 7 months old, he remains connected to his family roots in the Molise region east of Rome, Italy’s second-smallest province, he says.

When he entered Concordia in the mid-1980s after growing up in Montreal’s Ahuntsic neighbourhood and attending St. Pius X High School, he discovered a number of people who had roots in the same area.

“All my friends were going into the BComm at Concordia,” recalls Pasto. “But I think my background in psychology helped” in carving out a successful business career. “I knew how to deal with people.”

Along the way, he picked up an MBA/Master of International Business at Pepperdine University near Los Angeles.

For the last 20 years, Pasto has also taught CEGEP-level business and commerce at Vanier College, where his son Aiden studies business administration. But being part-owner of an Italian soccer team is, Pasto acknowledges, “taking up a lot more time than I thought.”

On the other hand, he considers it time well spent. “It has brought me much closer to my family in Italy, and to my family in Montreal,” he says. “It’s a reason to call Italy more often. We have a common interest.”

Soccer isn’t the only family passion. Attending Concordia is also on the list. Pasto’s wife, Lisa Marie Lanaro, BA 97, brother Luigi Pasto, BFA 21, and nephews Emilio, BA 18, and Sam, BA 23, are all Concordia grads.

And there’s another Canadian with an ownership stake in a European soccer team. Actor Ryan Reynolds owns a chunk of Wrexham, a Welsh-based team in England’s National League, while Joey Saputo, who owns CF Montreal, is also the majority shareholder in a consortium that owns Italy’s Bologna team in Serie A, Italy’s top tier.

“It’s a fun, honest thing to do,” Pasto says. “I see why people buy sports teams — we’re so excited! It gives you that extra level of fun.

“And you’re really proud if something good happens.”


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