James Pallotta has warned that Roma ‘has to have’ a new stadium if they are to become ‘a top-five or six team in the world consistently’.
The Stadio della Roma took a big step forward last week, when they were given the green light to start work on the project, although Pallotta admitted ‘one unreasonable lawyer’ was preventing them from buying the necessary land.
“The mayor, and all the others, have come out in the last few weeks and said they want to get it done by the end of the year – not finished and built, of course, but at least breaking ground hopefully by the end of the year,” he said in the third and final part of his SiriusXM FC interview on Wednesday.
“So there has been a lot of positive movement on that side of it. So there’s just ‘nitty-gritty’ things that we have got to finish up with them and hopefully by the end of May we will have everything back and ready to go and approved.
“One of the issues is we still need to buy the land: there was a letter of intent, and we had an agreement in more than principle, more than two and a half months ago, with Eurnova.
“And Eurnova Trust has been reasonable, but we are dealing with one unreasonable lawyer that keeps pushing stuff off and asking for unreasonable stuff that we are just not going to agree to.
“Once we have that done we have control of the entire project, and a lot more flexibility in terms of partners and others coming in to work with us.
“The stadium is owned by AS Roma holding company, which some people don’t realise, they think it is my boy toy.
“It is owned by the team, so what happens with the stadium is that all revenues, the incremental revenues that we’re getting, it will only make us have – hopefully – more financial strength to have more flexibility.
“The stadium is key. It is just 100% key. If Roma is going to compete as a top-five or six team in the world consistently, then it has to have that stadium. It just has to.
“It’s a matter of economics. When Real Madrid and Barcelona are knocking on the door of billion-dollar revenue numbers, or passing that, then there is no other way to do it.”
The Giallorossi’s business model under Pallotta, who took over the club in 2012, has seen them regularly sell their best players…
“You can try to be as smart as you can in player acquisitions, and that can work for a while – but [to do it with] consistency is going to need some of those finances – it’s just a fact of life,” he confessed.
“Sometimes, for Financial Fair Play, we just have to sell players. People don’t understand that. That’s the way it works. It’s not like, ‘Oh god, I want to get rid of this guy!’
“It’s just that, under Financial Fair Play, you just have to deal with some really stringent conditions – that some other teams have gotten away with! But we haven’t…
“It is frustrating sometimes, especially when we are having some very constructive conversations, let’s put it that way, with UEFA. You know.
“When we look at some of the punishments – or lack of punishments – meted out, my view is like, ‘Why am I bothering with Financial Fair Play, shouldn’t I just take a €12m fine and deal with this stuff?’
“There is some stuff that needs to be done [with FFP]. I just wrote a letter to UEFA actually, and listed a bunch of things out, and just asked for some explanation or some constructive dialogue, versus what we’ve seen on what other teams have done.”
Finally, the American passed judgment on Serie A and where it ranked compared to the Premier League and La Liga.
“I think the league has to improve, the federation too,” he concluded.
“I think we have taken some steps, but I don’t think any of us [club owners] are completely or 100% happy yet.
“If you look at it, what the Bundesliga has done, what La Liga has done, and clearly what the Premier League has done… Italy should be up there.”