Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis slams the local council over Stadio San Paolo - “I don’t understand this city”.
The mayor of Naples, Luigi De Magistris, said this week that the club had not made “a serious offer” for the renovation of the stadium, which the council currently owns.
“I read De Magistris’ words this morning,” De Laurentiis fumed in an interview with Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli.
“I was confused by his words. A few months ago, mayor De Magistris came to dinner with me, and I told him all my plans for the stadium.
“I told him I’d have €20m available for the work, and he was very happy. We shook hands and came to an agreement.
“After that meeting I started looking for competent people to carry out the work, and in the end I discovered the Juventus Stadium was done by the architect [Gino] Zavanella.
“I called him, and we found an agreement with him. Of course, for these things you have to go through a long bureaucratic process like feasibility studies and planning applications.
“The last word in approving these projects goes to the city. In addition to the €20m I had made available, I had plans for a 45,000-square metre commercial centre at Piazzale Tecchio, which would become a pedestrian area.
“The mayor can say what he wants, I took Napoli into Europe for six years in a row, something unique in Italy.
“All the garbage the world thinks about Naples has been balanced-out by Napoli, a credit to the city with our sporting achievements.
“This is despite the rubbish, the nonsense we’ve had to put up with over San Paolo, which we’re only allowed to use on a matchday, and we’re not responsible for the maintenance.
“We’re only responsible for the pitch, which has been described as the best in Italy. I’m ashamed to hold matches in this stadium, where there aren’t even any toilets, we have to bring portable ones from Tuscany.
“There have always been problems at this stadium, though I’ve learned to love it because of our fans and their singing.
“The other day, in the match against Juventus, Andrea Agnelli [the Bianconeri President], who is used to Juventus Stadium, looked around San Paolo and was bewildered.
“When Chelsea, [Manchester] City or Bayern Munich came here, what could we do? How could I explain to them that the council doesn’t perform the maintenance? They’d laugh at me.
“The mayor and I shook hands, I don’t understand what has changed now. I don’t understand this city.
“We have a pseudo-agreement which expires on September 30 [today], but we can’t go on like this.
“Am I supposed to invest €20m in the transfer market under these conditions? I’d want to sell all the players! How can I invest in this city, with a mayor who would betray me in this way?
“I hope the mayor’s words are the result of a misunderstanding. They’re giving me an absolute toilet to try and make deals over. They should give it to me for free, if this is where we’re playing.
“They should give it to me for free, instead they make me pay stratospheric rent. Cheating on this means we’re cheating the city, and cheating our fans who put so much hope into football.
“How can he not understand the needs of the city? I repeat, I hope this is the result of a misunderstanding.
“If by October 30, we haven’t found an agreement, I’ll give up Stadio San Paolo with a heavy heart, and look for land to build a ground somewhere else.
“Zavanella and I have already drawn up the plans. All I have to do is whistle and there will be 100 industrial companies by my side for this project.
“My plan was to redevelop San Paolo, there was a major project. De Magistris has to have the patience to sort out the technical details, it’s not cut-and-dry.
“The big problem is, politicians don’t work on a technical level, so they use their position to get themselves into government.
“Think of what happened in Rome with [Ignazio] Marino, how can a doctor run a city like Rome?
“I’m still open to dialogue with the mayor to find out what the situation is.”