Thursday 6 August 2015

The Stadio Milan Squabble

There were murmurs for a few days that Milan could abandon plans to build a stadium in the Portello area, right next to Casa Milan, the club's headquarters, and they projected into a very public squabble on Thursday.

The Fondazione Fiera, who own the land and are responsible for developing the city's exhibition industry, awarded Milan the area in early July after a protracted process that saw the club overcome rival bids. The enthusiasm that followed the decision indicated that the worst of it was over, and that the city council's compliance would be a much easier process.  Joint CEO Barbara Berlusconi even delivered a somewhat ornate message through the club's official website, which pronounced her vision for a "Milan like London," in which the stadium was a linchpin of civic life (a boon lost on the local residents that have been protesting its construction for months).

However, Milan raised suspicions at the land's exorbitant reclamation cost, which they maintain was not made clear to them earlier.  The Fondazione Fiera claim, very vocally in today's Corriere della Sera, that they had been transparent all along and that Barbara Berlusconi even agreed to all the stipulations.

Milan issued a stern rejoinder through their website today, reminding the people at Fondazione Fiera that they were still waiting for the details of the reclamation and that they were working without any binding contracts.  Milan also added that had these costs been made clear in the previous 8 months, the club may have seriously evaluated other areas, and now to build a stadium for the start of the 2018-19 season (the original plan) may be impossible, resulting in lost revenue.

That is the encapsulation of the quarrel, a quarrel that is quintessentially Italian in some ways, and typical of these sorts of projects in others.  

To add to the rigmarole, some sections of the Italian media also speculated that Bee Taechaubol, the broker representing a consortium that aims to buy 48% of Milan by September 30th, was lukewarm towards Barbara Berlusconi's stadium idea as well.  However, that was denied yesterday by Licia Ronzulli, a mediator between Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi and the Thai broker.

Meanwhile, Milan fans eagerly await a denouement.  The club have already looked at alternatives.

Milan's official statement:

The coveted Portello area right next to Casa Milan with a rendering of Milan's proposed stadium

Wednesday 18 March 2015

My Thoughts on Parma's Troubles

Parma captain Alessandro Lucarelli described his club's swift disintegration as a "disgusting farce," while former hero Hernan Crespo had "no words" left to express.  That seems about right.  Despite its grim implications for Italian football, there is something meaningless about Parma's financial ruin, something so annihilating that to begin to describe it in words is a desperate lunge towards meaning where there is none.  Here, I will not talk about all that has been described, unpacked already for you in broadsheets and blogs.  Here are only my brief thoughts.

After all, the reason of financial mismanagement is inadequate, and veils something more sinister.  Parma's demise is symptomatic of a pervasive malevolence in Italian football, of administrators and owners who are willing to suborn each other to tear down the history and culture of institutions that are embedded in civic life.  Parma is a club that deserves to live and breathe in a city that has left a lasting mark on me since my visit there last year, a city poised, self-confident, and possessing the most exquisite cuisine in Italy.

Below are some pictures of the warm Parma fan club that my host and I stumbled upon during one of our excursions in the city.  In bocca al lupo, Parma F.C. .