Rocco Commisso unveiled himself as Fiorentina’s new owner on Friday, with a few choice words for Milan, Federico Chiesa and the Press.
Commisso takes over from the much-criticised Della Valle family, and journalists quickly warmed to the Italo-American’s quirky personality, which saw him regularly switch between his mother tongue and English.
“Good day to everyone and good day to the Press,” he began.
“I thank the lawyers who accompanied us in the negotiations, Joe Barone and everyone else who participated in these negotiations.
“I also thank my compatriots for what they gave me. We have to do things quickly. It’s a different way of doing business, but I knew what I was getting into.
“I emigrated from Italy to America. I kept my Italian way of life. I was born in Gioiosa Ionica.
“Football gave me a lot. If it hadn’t been for football, l I wouldn’t be here today. Thanks to football, I received a scholarship and, if you know me, my success is also thanks to that.
“My career in football started in 1967. I also used to coach youngsters. I never expected this welcome.
“In New York no-one recognises me. Here, everyone cheers for me. It’s an indescribable thing.
“I’m proud to have been blessed by the mayor. The first time I came here I saw so many women, but two weeks later I got engaged to my wife.”
The cable-TV tycoon tried to buy Milan last year, but talks with then-owner Li Yonghong got nowhere...
“My first offer was in 2016, then in 2017, in 2018... no-one gave me a positive answer. I also negotiated for Milan, but I never saw Li.
“He spent more money in football in a year and a half than any man on the face of the earth.
“Let him stay in China. I want to thank the Della Valle family and I have a lot of respect for their sacrifices and investments.
“We have the resources to do well, but I don’t want to make promises that I can’t keep. We’ve negotiated a good price for the club.
“I like risks. If I didn’t like them I wouldn’t be here. I can’t give you a precise answer with regards to the board.
“I’ll be here for three or four days. My team are awake. The world wasn’t built in one day. Part of my team will leave today. You have to give me time.
“We closed the deal quickly. We saved two or three months. Today I talked to all the employees. I want them to know that I’m loyal.
“I’m not here to send anyone away, I’ve never done that. I’m here to learn, but I learn very quickly!
“Montella’s in India right now. I’ve never sacked anyone at Mediacom all these years, but I can’t talk to Montella yet.
“We can’t tell you anything yet, but Salah won’t be coming back! Surprise isn’t a player. Fiorentina will be in America next month to face Arsenal, Guadalajara, and in the state I live, my NY Cosmos.”
Chiesa has been heavily linked with Juventus, traditionally the Viola’s arch-rivals...
“I want to keep Chiesa for at least another year. I don’t want him to be a Baggio. Where must he go, Juventus?
“They assured me that there’s no agreement to make him go elsewhere. I haven’t talked to him, he’s with the Italy squad and he’s playing tomorrow.
“I won’t make any promises. I’ve dreamt of investing in Italy. I’m 69, I’ll make smart investments, so we’ll see what happens. I won’t wait 10 years.
“I don’t want to be arrogant, but I’m here to learn. I don’t like losing, I never say I’ll win right away.
“It’s important to underline the fact that an Italian team have been taken over by an emigrant for the first time.
“I’ll stay here for a few more days to deal with some organisational situations, but I won’t have all the answers in three days.
“Corvino and Montella have contracts, as does Chiesa. We’ll face all these situations. I can put in €200 or €300m, but then I hope UEFA favours Fiorentina as it did City, Milan and PSG...
“It’ll be tough. In America you can build a team with just 20m. That’s why people don’t even watch MLS in the US: it’s the fifth most watched League there.
“Without revenue you can’t sign players, but without good players you don’t make revenue. I’ll fight to the maximum for this club.
“I’m not an oil man. I’m someone who earned their own living. I saw Inter and Roma, they increased their revenue and we have that potential.
“Juventus turn over €450m, we turn over €100m: it takes time.”
Commisso proceeded to discuss his past support for the Bianconeri and potential links with Gianluigi Buffon.
“I support Italy when they win. I grew up in Calabria, I was a fan of Juventus because they always won.
“Going to America, I continued to support Juventus: in those days you could only see half a game a week: only the second half, sometimes...
“Now I feel Florentine and I’m proud of it. As for Buffon, you [journalists] invent things that don’t exist. I’ve read so many things that don’t exist.
“This is my new project. I’ve done so much with Mediacom (his American cable company), that I can now afford to concentrate on this.
“I saw the game with Genoa and the team was scared. If they don’t get a result, at times it’s not the fault of the players, but of the leadership. The current players can do much better and were probably just terrified after the change of Coach.”
Finally, the 69-year-old was asked if he will be a regular fixture in Florence, unlike James Pallotta with Roma.
“My desire is to come here, but I can’t make promises right now. I do like to be present for my clubs. For example, there are two MLS clubs in New York, the Red Bulls and NYCFC. Since I’ve been in charge of the NY Cosmos, I’ve been to the stadium more times than the other Presidents put together.
“The Cosmos have always tried to improve the image of soccer in America. I have an open issue going on with MLS, but that has nothing to do with Serie A.”
The New York Cosmos currently are not in Major League Soccer, because he was able to purchase Fiorentina for more or less the same amount it’d take to register as an MLS franchise - €170m.
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