Champions League fever is well and truly underway in Rome - with 200+ fans chanting outside of Trigoria’s gates for the final pre-match tactical warmup and a further 100 or more fans at Fiumicino airport to send off the team - and it turned out the squad were making their way to Trigoria’s training pitches fresh from a stealthy indoor photoshoot.
#ASRoma will wear their white away kit with the new @QatarAirways logo on the front for the first time in the @ChampionsLeague semi-final against #LFC on Tuesday night at Anfield pic.twitter.com/hdW9oMLjLl— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) April 23, 2018
Officially, it’s been announced this afternoon that Qatar Airways have set aside some of the budget they once gave to a certain FC Barcelona and now sent it AS Roma’s way, becoming the Italian club’s shirt sponsor and “Main Global Partner”. Calcio e Finanza reports the deal to be worth 40 million euros total over the next three seasons, not including bonuses. The last time I checked, that puts this shirt deal only behind Juventus’ sponsorship and Sassuolo’s self-financing deal.
As mentioned in the club’s tweet, the Qatar Airways name will immediately be seen on the away shirts for tomorrow night’s semi-final first leg in Liverpool.
If there were any doubts as to the lasting impact of Roma’s effort to turn around her reputation on the continent with their momentous quarter-final comeback victory, now there is a very concrete result from those efforts that will last - at the very least - until the end of the 2020/21 season.
Pallotta Insisting on New Stadium Decision
An airliner signing on three seasons to back the world’s number 1 tourist destination can only become a bigger deal when a new stadium embraces the city’s horizon. Roma’s owner has the knife between his teeth on that front, using every opportunity to pressure the relevant authorities into giving the club the green light on laying the first brick.
“Every month the stadium is delayed costs another million,” Pallotta told Sky Italia, “and that was money we could have invested elsewhere, on players and other things. It’s coming up to 65-70 million euros we could have spent another way. I know they have to make their own decisions but they have to finish up soon.”
“Will I go to the match at Anfield?” Pallotta ventured on tomorrow evening’s game. “I’ll be in London and then we’ll see. I’m superstitious about these things, but I’ll definitely be at the game in Rome.”
No doubt some will be tempted to get pedantic over Pallotta’s strategy here, looking up whether the money spent on a stadium bid really does affect the club’s transfer policy. But the bottom line is he is not letting up on using the cameras, media and hype around the club right now to relentlessly cut through red tape and get the new stadium over the line.
Earlier this month, Pallotta claimed the club would have “four or five” big announcements to make from this month till the summer on the revenue front. One of those is expect to be a circa 3 million-per-season deal with Hyundai as a back-of-the-shirt sponsor.
This is the kind of commercial progress that has been sorely needed for a club that, until today, held an extremely modest yearly average commercial revenue of around 28-34 million euros a year, a number heavily outgunned - for perspective - by any of the other 3 remaining teams in this season’s Champions League.
Today’s news can only help with the club’s options in exiting their FFP settlement agreement this summer on the club’s own terms. But of course more results on the football pitch can do a lot more to open doors in a lot less time.