After Fernando Torres’ signing, I asked Jacopo Piotto why exactly Milan had purchased Torres from Chelsea. Technically, it’s because you cannot loan a player already on loan, and should Milan loan Torres to Atleti, and they sold Cerci, then that would mean Torres would return to Chelsea. Now, should Cerci be sold and Torres has to return, he gets to come back to Milan, a favor for Chelsea as they never wanted to see the front side of Fernando again anyway. The conversation continued, and I transcribed the results.
Pete Acquaviva: I basically see Milan entering an even darker tunnel ahead..
Jacopo Piotto: It always comes down to the same conclusion: Berlusconi needs to sell. Because unless he decides to put fresh money (which wouldn’t help for FFP anyway, I suppose), there is no way out.
Pete: Yes, we’ve agreed for years on Silvio: he overvalues Milan at €900m. It’s really worth somewhere in the €750m-800m ballpark, and it’s riddled with another €150-250m of debt depending on how many bank loans you’re trying to cover. Asking for €900m, with knowledge of what it really is, is comical. So much so that one potential investor leaked the information about Berlusconi’s valuation himself.. it’s a joke. Let’s talk what’s actually going to happen: a small minority investment from “a new sponsor”, Fly Emirates picking up a portion of the bill for the new the stadium should they actually get the logistics worked out, and Milan facing the continued prospect of “sell sell sell” when the revenues don’t meet the costs.
Jacopo: I think the risk is Milan being bought by the wrong people, for different reasons. Foreign money doesn’t come to Italy because of a few reasons: the league isn’t marketed properly, Italian clubs aren’t financially solid, and to play in Italy’s backyard you need to know the neighbors. Meaning, you have to know the tricks Genoa play in the transfer market or the power games keeping Lotito close to the FIGC head. But assuming you do find an interested investor, why would they want to buy Milan? The team is past their prime and can hardly still sell itself as a European superpower. And you can’t count on small investments like Fly Emirates, because 1. Those minority investors have no power, there’s nothing really tying them to the project long term 2. Fly Emirates sponsor several top clubs in Europe, Milan is a minor asset in comparison.
Pete: No one is going to buy it until they fix this shit. There’s too small of a revenue stream for Milan to be considered a big club. Beyond that, there’s the issue of there being no cash on hand, which is why there’s never a transfer for a fee up front when Milan actually do make a purchase. Even if there is, like for Matri or Balotelli, its split over 4-5 years. “So how do you make more money?” everyone asks. Barbara has been trying lately but it’s not working very well, although Casa Milan is a TINY step in the right direction for what it’s worth.
Jacopo: A stadium is not the answer as well, you know. It has to be done, yes, but it won’t solve anything. It will take too much time to build and then we can’t expect the same success that Juventus had. They had a project behind the stadium, which they perfectly executed.
Pete: I agree that a stadium isn’t the answer, but not having one is not unacceptable to the nth degree. Every season without a stadium right now is absolutely a wasted year – fact. There is no realistic chance to compete for any meaningful title until there exists a stadium. That’s a necessary condition to win titles. But it’s not a sufficient condition to win titles. To say a stadium fixes the problem is insane.
Jacopo: And even in Juve’s case, they are starting to have slightly less attendance (because now it’s routine and because in Italy we don’t mix business and sport well).
Pete: Which is why when I hear these people say, “45000 seats? it should be 55,000!” it strikes me as a strange disconnect. Overall, the match day experience in Italy is very poor, and there really haven’t been many strides to improve that.
Jacopo: Not at all; and you can’t expect enthusiasm for a team that, by the time the stadium is completed, will have lost every single bit of the golden age aura
Pete: By the time it’s done it will have been 15 years since the last Milan push in Europe
Jacopo: Actually, if you delay it a bit more, maybe you can hope that Milan fans have forgotten they were once great, and take it as a big development for a medium team.
Pete: We can be like Udinese!
Jacopo: Haha, I had Udinese already written.
Pete: Except with much shittier scouting.
Jacopo: I’m glad Milan were great in that age were supporting your team matters the most. The problem is that I can’t pretend it’s fine to never win again. I can’t be an Inter fan.
Pete: Like 10-18 years old..That was the golden time for us as Milan fans while being the formative years of sports fandom. So my question is: how do you convince new fans of this team, and those young fans you need to be developing into lifelong fans, into sticking with this club? So far the answer has been: bring back the players they used to love and hope they don’t notice they’re not the same.
Jacopo: I think we have to split between Italians and foreigners. Milan fans which are also Italians. If they already are Milanista at age 14 (right around the age where you can’t change your mind), they will be forever. Under that age, if they are still deciding, there’s little to no chance they’ll turn out to be Milanista unless they have a person in their family they really look up to, and he’s a Milan fan.
Pete: Exactly, why would they be fans of Milan unless it’s passed on?
Jacopo: Even though you don’t change the team in your heart, the culture of the team will of course still change. Milan won’t be the “European power” they used to, but those fans will adapt to the new culture (the losing one that affects the players now).
Pete: “You give me one domestic title and one Champions League every ten years and I’m ok” – that was you on April 28, 2014.
Jacopo: Yep, only that it won’t happen again. I will be a Milan fan forever, even if we lose. But I can easily imagine myself, 20 years from now, telling a kid (my son?) how great Milan was when I was young, “It’s not the Milan you see right now..” Maybe Milan’s dimension won’t change and we’ll still be a top 5 club in Italy.
Pete: Maybe we’ll be looking back on Milan the way Nottingham Forest fans do to their club, “back when I was a young fan, we won TWO CLs in a decade..”
Follow Jacopo on Twitter @Jacopopiotto and Pete @PDAcquaviva