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Totti Today: Money, Power, Respect

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DAZN’s charm offensive on Serie A is this week’s biggest peninsula power play, but everyone has money worries.

Diletta Leotta, anchor of DAZN broadcasts, gestures prior to... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

By January 1998, the collective production team known as The Hitmen had long since earned their pay under the wing of Sean “Puffy” Combs at Bad Boy Records. But they still weren’t done making hits. That month saw the team loop a sample of Dexter Wansel’s “New Beginning” to trademark perfection, letting Bad Boy Records continue to do what it become known best for doing: Turning crooner records of the seventies into poignant yet sinister film-noir type hip hop records of the nineties.

That sample provoked female rapper Lil’ Kim into a chorus that just rolled off the tongue for any angry young man with a point-to-prove (me) at the time: “It’s the key to life... Money, Power, Respect.”

As Kim spoke those affirmations over and again for 4 minutes and 30 seconds of The Lox’s 1998 hit record, so too were those the themes circling around Rome, this past week. Fame, fortune, betrayal... it’s all going down in the Eternal City. Well, that is, if you believe the news. And why should you?

DAZN Steps Up Their Assault On the New Serie A TV Rights

AS Roma v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The biggest power play of this week belongs to DAZN, who you might have noticed stepping up their appearances as “matchday sponsors” for big Serie A games this season. Your guess is as good as mine as to what a matchday sponsor actually does, but I’m guessing throwing piles of cash as the matchday promoter ranks high on the to-do list. It’s a nifty way to get the current TV-rights holder to mention your name as the prospective TV-rights holder of the future and get future subscribers away of your name ahead of time.

DAZN is anticipating the Lega’s February 26th general meeting, where Serie A chiefs will once again try to come to an agreement over whether to accept DAZN’s €840 million-per-season offer for the next three years of domestic Serie A coverage (directly affecting Italy-based viewers only) or watch the Lega turn to Sky’s lower offer once again. But this time DAZN has a cunning co-pilot to back their new bid in the form of TIM—as reported by Ansa (via Digital News).

Getting telecommunications giant TIM on board is no mean feat. They're already the title sponsor of Serie A itself, as well as the main broadcaster of Serie A Femminile live games this season. TIM has promised to come up with 40% of the money over the next three seasons, as DAZN’s partner, and offer new distribution channels (most likely 4G/5G devices and their app) by which to promote watching the game.

Di Giovambattista Finally Overdoes the Roma Stadio Rumours

Luca Parnasi Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you don’t know who Radio Radio’s chief editor Ilario Di Giovambattista is by now, that’s ok. But believe me when I say he’s likely responsible for half (if not more) of the Roma rumors and headlines over the past few years that have triggered your flight-or-fight responses when you were just looking for a nice, quiet browse of the web.

That’s because IDG takes it upon himself to come up with the most tongue-in-cheek, outrageous “scoops” on Roma that you can imagine. It’s entertaining as long as you don’t take it seriously because often even IDG himself doesn’t want you to take it seriously. Unfortunately, journalists across Europe take it upon themselves to report the transcripts of his radio show as near-fact, and the show must go on.

But this week IDG may have over-cooked his goose, as he “reported” that disreputable property magnate Luca Parnasi (pictured above left—he who owned and then sold the Tor di Valle land that Roma plan to build a new stadium upon) may have never actually owned the rights to Tor di Valle in the first place, and was just taking former Roma owner James Pallotta on a ride for eight years. Of course, absolutely no source or evidence was given from Di Giovambattista; only that “someone had told him” and that “if true” it would “be a serious situation!”

A.S. Roma vs F.C. Genoa - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

But Luca Parnasi took exception to IDG’s scoop, calling in the radio show himself and getting into a shouting match with Di Giovambattista live on air. Unfortunately, Radio Radio’s website has yet (if ever) to upload the recorded stream of the show. My guess is we’ll never hear of this story again.

IDG’s final scoop of that afternoon was that the Friedkins supposedly aren’t as focused on building a new stadium as James Pallotta was, and more focused on building a strong Roma first team (why the two have to be divorced from one another, I don’t know). He went on to claim the Friedkins have “massive investments” planned to reinforce Fonseca’s squad, and it’s to the Friedkins where we turn next.

The Friedkins Are Busier Than Ever

Hellas Verona FC v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

We couldn’t do a money, power, respect feature without Roma’s owners in the mix, but it’s hard to know where to begin or end with how many stories the Friedkins have been involved in the past week. Their current priority is said to be the renewal of shirt sponsors Qatar Airways and Hyundai (reported by Gazzetta dello Sport and Siamo La Roma on two separate occasions) which would put paid to any notions we fans had of a mega-sponsorship with Toyota.

The Friedkins reportedly need Fonseca to bring this club back in front of Champions League cameras, if they’re going to convince shirt sponsors to keep working at the current numbers. But what’s new? It’s not like Fonseca isn’t already aware of the numerous reasons why he needs to guide this team to a top four finish, already.

Second on the Friedkin’s agenda is waiting for ex-Juventus general secretary Maurizio Lombardo to accept a position on Roma’s management team—as reported by the Gazzetta dello Sport (via Forza Roma). A longer-term objective could be the Friedkins buying back the deeds to Trigoria. The story of how Roma sold off Trigoria often changes in the detail and I’m confused, at this point, as to who sold off the training grounds and who actually bought them.

AS Roma Press Conference Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

If you believe the Gazzetta dello Sport (via Siamo La Roma), then Trigoria was sold in 2005 by the Sensis and immediately rented back by the club. That lease deal extended into the Pallotta era (under re-negotiated terms) and still exists today. The Friedkins were reportedly openly exploring the idea of putting an end to the current €2.7 million yearly rent payments, and simply buying bring the land and training centre back under A.S. Roma ownership for good.

Lastly, in a week where FIGC chief Gravina reminded everyone that Serie A clubs have lost 600 million euros of revenue in the last two seasons, the Friedkins are reportedly already anticipating yet another capital injection into the club by April 2021 (via Forza Roma). Roma could be back in the red to the tune of €150 million by the end of the season, and someones has to keep the ship afloat.

It looks like that DAZN television deal can’t be announced soon enough. Ciao, Diletta. Piacere.