BLOG ITALIA
Thursday July 13 2017
Roma need a present President

James Pallotta is forgetting to cultivate his relationship with the Roma fans, and Andrea Tallarita believes this may cost him.

It's becoming difficult to understand what the Roman vox populis is really saying. The unsurprising anger at the heavyweight departures this summer (Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger, Leandro Paredes) came coupled with a hopeful surge in season ticket sales.

The world of football fans is not exactly famous for its intellectual diversity, but there are now more opinions about the Giallorossi than there are cobbles in Piazza Venezia. People are divided on the team, on the new sporting director Monchi, on the new Coach Eusebio Di Francesco, and of course on the stadium.

One thing that most fans share, however, is a short supply of sympathy for President James Pallotta, which should prompt a short reflection. What is broken - and what can yet be fixed - about the relationship between Big Jim and the Romanisti?

There is a combination of two factors that set the two parties at odds with each other. The first, and I state the obvious, is distance. Pallotta is not just Roma's first foreign owner, he is also the first who resides abroad. He happens in Rome only sporadically, he has scant relationship with the Press, and is only seen at the stadium for the most crucial (and financially lucrative) matches.

The Sensi family were far from perfect, but come Sunday they would always be in the stands, adding their voice to that of the supporters. For a culture so tribal, it is much harder to identify with someone who spends that time sleeping off a jet lag in Boston or Miami.

The other issue is the President's personality. His style is expansive, enthusiastic, and confrontational when it has to be. I hope I'm not mistaken when I say that this seems typically American, but he often adopts a let's-have-a-straight-talk attitude that is quite at odds with the ultra-diplomatic Italian double-talk.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary: when Pallotta started out, it was both refreshing and healthy to hear him say that he openly opposed the appointment of Carlo Tavecchio as FIGC President. He sometimes sounded like Jose Mourinho minus the paranoia, which I mean as a compliment.

Unfortunately, this style appears to back-fire when used to address the fans. Calling even a sub-section of them 'idiots' was an unfortunate PR move in 2015: we know, of course, that he was attempting to marginalise those elements of the tifosi involved in denigrating the mother of a murdered Napoli fan (and for whom the epithet 'idiot' is in fact generous), but the tifosi remember only the bolt, not the target.

The same applies when dealing with the Rome-based Press, who are in many ways not that different from the fans. Just prior to the 'kidnapping' of Miralem Pjanic at the hands of Juventus, Pallotta had a spat with a handful of journalists in Rome, who filmed the whole exchange. He came across as someone angry with the fans, when it was really the opposite - he was angry for the same reasons the fans were.

The irony is that Pallotta has actually done a lot of work to cultivate the club's fan-base. Roma's presence online took exponential steps forward with a stream of articles, videos and interviews flowing on the club's website and social media, many of them interactive. The Stadio della Roma too has its own website.

A new Roma Store was opened last year in Via del Corso, and then there is all the work done to develop an international appeal, in particular the North American tours.

These developments show that Pallotta is aware of the importance of a solid fan-base, and that he has the means to tend to it. The 19,000 season tickets already sold are a testament to the strength of the bond between club and fans.

What's missing here is the human element. Too much of Pallotta's work is virtual, and not enough of it is grounded. He needs to be seen more often with the Coach, with the sporting director, with the players and particularly with the fans.

This is particularly true when a crisis emerges, as was the case last year, when the Curva Sud went on strike to protest against the new in-stadium barriers. Pallotta should have been there in person to try and allay the situation, instead of grumbling about it from Boston. He might not have succeeded, but the tifosi would have known he was there.

There are good things that the American ownership has done, and the fans see this. But increasingly it seems like their relationship with the President itself is being eroded, be it over the controversial retirement of Francesco Totti, or else over the apparent dismantling of the team this summer.

If Pallotta doesn't take steps to address this now, this could one day turn into a full-blown crisis of confidence. And that's going to sting a lot more than he knows, the effects of it spreading to damage the whole club.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
I'd love to see Roma succeed. They have potential n get decent results sometimes but in general end up falling short! It seems they r improving under Jim.P but the new stadio is a MUST as it'll be hard to make the step up if they keep selling key players. Pjanic,Rudiger n Salah in 2 yrs is too much! I get that Salah wanted to leave n the FFP but why Rudiger?! On foreign capital, it's needed now n Roma have always had Germans,Brazilians etc play for them. They could utilize their youth more tho!
on the 14th July, 2017 at 6:17am
@Anonymous"foreign invasion of Roma" LOL xenophobic eyetalian.

Just to let you know I am Indian and not Eyetalian (pun for Italian). There's a need for Italian clubs like AS Roma, Lazio, Fiorentina, Inter Milan, Udinese, Napoli etc. to invest in Italians just like what the Germans did in Bundesliga. Serie A was known for their emphasis on promoting Italians. I want Serie A to relive those magical moments. Hope Totti will be the change Romanistas are yearning for. Forza Milan Forza Rossoneri.
on the 14th July, 2017 at 3:09am
Agree with anony..
I would be sad if Roma were to sell Nainggolan, Strootman, Florenzi, Dzeko, Rudiger and Manolas (both).
But still, we're going to miss Rudiger.
The new arrival seems promising though..so let's hope the good of AS Roma
on the 14th July, 2017 at 2:38am
Totti for President!
on the 13th July, 2017 at 6:09pm
It not like roma even needs to go out and buy Italian players this is team who in recent years academy produced florenzi romagnoli politano bertolacci pellegrini and caprari obviously they aren't all first team players but they could be effective backup. roma were at their best when they were selective with their imports cafu batigol aldair emerson filled gaps. doumbia juan gonalons rui seem unnecessary i would question weather any them are a improvement on the academy graduates.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 2:43pm
"foreign invasion of Roma" LOL xenophobic eyetalian.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 12:26pm
Continuation @Beppe Rossi.
Manolas won't be sold, Rüdiger was.
Nainggolan won't be sold. Roma are adamant in not letting him go so, worst case scenarion, he doesn't sign a new contract but is still ''forced'' to remain (though IMO the only reason he still hasn't signed is because he's trying to get a higher salary, not because he wants to leave).
Szczesny was only on a LOAN at Roma and while I am sad at seeing him go (and pissed that Roma won't sign him), Arsenal put him on the market, not Roma.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 10:26am
@Beppe Rossi.
Salah wanted to leave badly (more accurately: he wanted to join the Premier League badly), Roma had to sell someone because of financial fair play and they got 42mil € + bonuses out of it. A good deal.
Paredes came as the-next-big-thing, yet has shown very little to warrant that title. 23mil€ + bonuses. A good deal.
Rüdiger is basically the only one which I don't really get why was sold. But still, Roma got around 35mil€ and can reinvest part of that for his replacement.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 10:13am
Okay so I read this article and frankly speaking I think it is not really addressing the real issue. This article has not shed any light on the de-Italinisation of AS Roma. Why aren't fans not complaining about the foreign invasion of AS Roma? Growing up I remember seeing a Roma with only Italian players. Right from Totti, Montella, Delvecchio, Perotta, Cassano, De Rossi, Eusebio De Francesco, Panucci etc. Why aren't they promoting young Italians like Lorenzo Pellegrini? AS Roma need to wake up.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 7:12am
Monchi said they're not a selling club.

Paredas - sold
Salah - Sold
Rudiger - Sold
Manolas - Being Shopped
Nainggolan - Being Shopped
Szcezny - Being Shopped.
on the 13th July, 2017 at 1:10am
So, if being straight-forward is "typically American", then I guess I'll take that as a compliment. I'm a Juve fan here in the USA, but I can tell you that Jim Pallotta cares a great deal about his Roma team, and wants to do everything he can to help it succeed. I've heard countless interviews with him, and can understand his frustration with dealing with Roman politics in building a new stadium. American businessmen are nothing like pragmatic Italians when it comes to getting things done....
on the 13th July, 2017 at 1:01am

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