U.S.-Based Owner Seeks To Transform AS Roma With Rebranding, New Stadium
Boston-based hedge fund manager James Pallotta is determined to bring U.S.-style branding and management to transform Serie A club AS Roma "into a profitable venture competing with the best in Europe," according to Guy Dinmore of the FINANCIAL TIMES. The challenge is daunting, "not just because Italy's Serie A is the least profitable of Europe's top leagues." Roma has also been plagued by outbursts of racism and violence from a small number of its diehard "ultra" fans, "while the team's talismanic captain and record goal scorer, Francesco Totti, is coming towards the end of his 20-year career, at the age of 36." After Roma managed to make just sixth place in Serie A, Pallotta said, "It has been a frustrating year. I am extremely disappointed. We beat all the best teams -- Juventus, we destroyed AC Milan, Fiorentina and three times beat Inter. But it is absurd how we played against the bottom half." Key to Roma's financial future "is to follow the example of Turin's Juventus and build its own stadium." The club has identified a site on the outskirts of Rome, "and hopes to submit building plans next month" to be ready for the '16-17 season. The design for a stadium with a capacity of 50,000 to 60,000 seats "is inspired by the city's ancient Colosseum," reflecting Pallotta's intention to build the Roma brand on the Italian capital. Pallotta: "We are branding Rome." Pallotta reckons that if ManU is worth some $3.9B and Roma is currently valued at less than $200M, then "there is a lot of opportunity to bridge that chasm" (FT, 6/23).