Yet another rolling saga of 2020 lives on in the Romaverse, as Dan Friedkin refuses to go away and reportedly (via Milano Finanza) offers €490 million to succeed James Pallotta as Roma’s next owner. The bid, if true, is still under Roma’s market valuation of €580 million before the Covid-19 crisis began in earnest. But it is a step up from the Friedkin Group’s last reported offer to the club.
It was only a few weeks ago that Friedkin reportedly came up with, and let’s be frank here, a derisory offer of €450 million, to be paid in installments over several years. James Pallotta understandably rejected the bid outright, later explaining his judgement to the press: “The last semi concrete offer we received […] just wasn’t close to being acceptable.”
At the end of the day, like him or not, this isn’t just about James Pallotta cashing out on his near-decade spent at the Roma helm. It’s also about finding an owner that’s not just qualified but willing to build on the work of Pallotta’s group and bring much-needed stability to Roma, on a sporting level, in the 21st century. Whether or not the Friedkin Group fits the bill is something we’ll never know until we actually see them working in action. But Friedkin’s last offer went a long way to undermining any confidence I had in a “new era”, as a fan myself.
However, the new offer is a shade under a half-billion up front, and it’s reported that the climb-down from Friedkin’s opening bid, way back in December 2019, is not just owed to uncertainty among the Covid-19 crisis, but also tied to Roma’s slim Champions League hopes next season. That, too, is understandable from Friedkin’s end, knowing in advance that he’d be looking at spending another €120 million (at least) within the next year on top, just to keep the club steady through another season without Champions League revenue.
It’s reported that €90 million of Friedkin’s current offer would go directly towards re-financing the club, which means nothing on an FFP-level but still keeps the lifeblood of the club running by covering real-life expenses and player wages.
All this being said, if Friedkin’s calculations really are tied to Roma’s Champions League fate then figure on James Pallotta stringing this out until at least the end of August, when the Europa League is done and dusted and all questions have been answered on the pitch. With Dan Friedkin reportedly giving Pallotta a ten-day deadline by which to either take the deal on the table now or leave it, there’s plenty of room for disagreement and both parties to walk away once again.
No matter what happens, one thing is for certain: Roma are a long way away from making ends meet on the balance sheet. With the wage bill currently as it is, every season without CL football leaves the club fishing for over €100 million just to stay out of the red. A new ownership to turn the page is Roma’s only option to stay visible in European football now.
James Pallotta is already the owner to have invested the most money into Roma in the club’s history, and yet even his finances cannot keep up with the demands of football at the very pinnacle. It’s a beautiful game wrapped around by cut-throat business, everywhere you look.