New Zebre team under ownership of the FIR to compete in Guinness PRO12
There will be two Italians teams competing in the Guinness PRO12 this season after the Italian rugby federation (FIR) took over ownership of Zebre.
Zebre had informed the FIR that they will not compete in the competition next season.
Reports in recent weeks have claimed that a number of players haven't been paid and the squad has yet to meet up for pre-season training.
In a statement, the FIR have said they will abide their agreement with Celtic Rugby Board that states they must have two teams in the competition.
Zebre Rugby will retain their name and will play the @PRO12rugby in Parma. The club got back under the Union ownership with a new management— Zebre Rugby (@ZebreRugby) July 24, 2017
They have created a new company - 'Zebre Rugby Club Company' - and appointed a CEO to build a new franchise from scratch.
Negotiations between the FIR, the new company and the club's players and staff will take place in Parma today as they begin the operating process of 'Zebre Rugby Club'.
The club have confirmed today via Twitter that they will retain the name Zebre Rugby and will compete in the competition from Parma under the Union ownership with a new management.
The addition of the two South African clubs was due to be officially announced this week.
The two teams are widely believed to be the Southern Kings out of Port Elizabeth and the Cheetahs out of Bloemfontein.
There have been plans mooted to expand the league even further, with a North American franchise being explored.