In a press release issued earlier today, James Pallotta unleashed a terse but scathing indictment of Italian football, aimed directly at peninsula's top calcio administrators. When I say it was terse, I mean it; Pallotta's manifesto was all of 59 words and lacked context or any possible solutions, but was he wrong?
Take a look for yourself:
AS Roma favors comprehensive reform to advance the future of Italian football - most importantly a meaningful change in our governance and leadership which most recently have led to a loss of credibility domestically and internationally.
It is clear that we need new and effective leadership independent and stronger than the current regime which has proved incapable of finding solutions.
One would imagine that Pallotta will elaborate on these thoughts in the near future; after all, Roma's bottom line is impacted by the very same phenomenon to which he is alluding. My biggest fear upon the American takeover was that the ownership group was assuming too much, figuring that sports in Europe worked more or less the same way they did in North America, but Pallotta has been hinting at these concerns since nearly day one, so I don' think that's the case.
However, given his economy of words in this instance, we're only left to guess what sort of reform Pallotta deems necessary. Certainly, one would imagine the collective financial capabilities of Serie A clubs is his prime concern, and with good reason.
Last summer, we spoke at length about Roma's financial standing among Europe's elite, which was, putting it kindly, lagging. Though the club checked in at 19th in the Deloitte Football Money League, they were dead last among the Top 20 in terms of matchday revenue, a product of leasing rather than owning one's stadium, which was the case for all Italian clubs bar Juventus.
Given that the Stadio della Roma is still, at best, two years away, and that no other club in the league has firm plans to build their own grounds, Italy's financial future still looks quite grim.
However, whilst the majority of the Money League is characterised by revenue growth in a challenging market, Italian clubs, with the exception of Juventus, are struggling to grow and find themselves sliding down the Money League. Italian clubs not owning their own stadium makes it hard for them to invest and to generate the matchday and commercial revenue of their European peers.
Indeed, Roma was at or near the bottom in terms of matchday, broadcasting and commercial revenue. While Pallotta's team has taken the necessary steps to improve these arenas, with the league itself in decline, one has to wonder if they're fighting an unwinnable battle. At the very least, they're not receiving much help. If Serie A were to become a two-to-three club oligopoly like La Liga, they need the uberest of uber stars (excuse my poor colloquial German) to get their names on front pages around the world, which, of course, requires enormous outlays on the transfer market.
Then there is the simple matter of results. What was once, twenty or thirty years ago, the world's best and most popular league, Serie A has suddenly becoming a selling league; breeding and exporting the next generation of talent rather buying and enjoying the spoils of the game's greatest stars; a point solidified by Italy's fall to 5th place ranking in the latest UEFA co-efficients.
Despite the league's broader travails, with the new stadium on the horizon, new sponsors and Champions League cash, Roma's bottom line should improve over the foreseeable future; a point which the folks at Deloitte readily admit, but what about the factors beyond James Pallotta's control? Will they ultimately keep Roma from the ranks of the super elite?
Can he and the leagues other owners do anything about the lack of continuity at the highest reaches of FIGC, a particularly salient point in the wake of President Giancarlo Abete's resignation. Can they do anything to make the stadiums safer? What about hooliganism? Racism? Fraud?
There are just so many hurdles standing in Italy's way, it's hard to imagine the league ever regaining its perch atop European football, which might mean that Roma and Pallotta will have to succeed in spite of their surroundings.
What do you think? Can Italy recover from its recent woes? Will they hold Roma back?