Thursday July 11 2019
Commisso: I'll change Fiorentina, but...

Rocco Commisso believes he will ‘change things’ for the better at Fiorentina but warns they will only start buying players once they make sales.

Commisso has already made his mark since taking over Fiorentina last month, endearing himself to supporters with his stance on keeping fans’ favourite Federico Chiesa.

Despite his considerable wealth, however, the Italo-American billionaire made it clear he would be playing by the rules.

“From letter of intent, I think it was less than two-and-a-half weeks before I did signing and closing,” he told Forbes.

“We signed and closed on the same day which means I didn’t do any due diligence between signing the contract and closing on the contract, which typically takes two or three months.

“We almost got relegated on the last game last year so the initial target is we’ve got to do better than last year.

“Beyond that I’m not giving any targets to anyone, largely because I like to under promise and over deliver, as opposed to the other way around. 

“In the 17 years that the prior ownership held the club, they didn’t win one trophy. It’s going to go slow and hopefully fast later, once I get hold of what’s going on.

“We hope that over time, and I can’t tell you the timeframe in which it’s going to be achieved, but that we do bring winning seasons and some trophies hopefully that the fans can be proud of.

“Soccer is in my veins like no other sport. Hopefully I’ll be treated the way I treat them [the fans]. I expect to go to Florence, a lot.

“I expect to attend some games. One of my prime jobs is to satisfy the hunger of the fanbase. 

“I like to distinguish myself from all of the investors in sports in Italy that I know and that I know about in England – none of them came from the background that I came from.

“I spent a significant amount of my time playing soccer and have been involved with the game for 60 years.

“[The investment is] mostly passion. I’m not in soccer to make money. I don’t want to lose money, but I’m not here as a businessman to make money. 

“I’m here more because it’s my way of giving back to the game and to Italy for what the game has meant to me.

“I could easily put in money to buy more players but if I’m not allowed, what’s the sense of it?

“Clearly if we’re limited in how much investment we can make on players by the revenues we generate, we have to find ways to generate more revenue.

“One of the problems we’ve found in buying Fiorentina is they have a huge quantity of players but not necessarily the right quality.

“So, we have our work cut out to make sure that before we buy, we sell. Unless you have the revenues you can’t buy the players and unless you buy the players, you can’t generate the revenues.”

The 69-year-old was then asked about Serie A’s performance compared to the likes of La Liga and the Premier League.

“With respect generally to Serie A, we’re not doing well,” Commisso said.  

“The total revenues of Serie A in relation to the Premier League is about one third. We’re fourth in terms of revenues. We’re behind England by far, but we’re also behind Germany and Spain.

“Outside of Juventus, there’s no Italian club that produces $300m of revenue per year. The 20 clubs in the Premier League [collectively] produce $5.4bn.

“Which means you’ve got clubs like Manchester United generating $600m, $700m, $800m of revenue, which gives them the ability to buy up the whole world.

“My job is to try to increase our revenues and the branding, which starts with sponsorship and commercial revenues.

“There are some short-term things that could be done. Like qualifying for the Champions League. But it’s in a competitive market. 

“So I think after a month, I’ve got my work cut out to be able to dramatically change things over night. But if you give me time, I will change them.”

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