Gazidis: Why a new stadium is crucial and why Milan have the most potential of any Italian club

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis and his associate James Murray have highlighted just how important it is for Milan and Inter to build a new stadium.

Both Milan clubs have made their intentions known that they wish to build a new state-of-the-art stadium on the site of the current San Siro.

Recent indications over the past few weeks and months have suggested that most of the sticking points in talks with the Council have been addressed, and now it seems the attention has shifted to which project will win.

Italian firm Manica and American giants Populous are the two competing firms trying to land the project.

Gazidis and Murray both spoke to The Athletic in a long feature which maps out the club’s plans to return to the top, of which a new stadium is a big part.

“The current process is working on a revised version of the feasibility study, which includes the renovation of San Siro into a multi-purpose sport and entertainment complex,” Gazidis’ chief of staff, James Murray, explains.

“It’s an evolution of the original concept. All the detailed planning that went into the original concept now needs to be updated in light of the conversations that have happened with the commune.

“When you’re in a commercial conversation and you’re up against multiple other football clubs, you have to work out what is the unique point of difference,. You need to be able to tell a story that goes beyond the football side.

“We will always have the credentials in the sports performance space and in the football space. We will also have by association the brand equity that comes with the city of Milan and everything that represents — fashion, art, entertainment. The general consensus, and this is not just from internally within Milan, is that this brand can stand for a lot more than just football.”

Gazidis then discussed how the emotional attachment to the current San Siro is outweighed by the immense possibilities of a new facility.

“The memories are always going to be there. Nobody can take them away. But in the end, the most important thing is the human connection,” he said.

“When we think about respect for the heritage of Milan or Inter for that matter, and the way to respect the clubs’ history and ambitions the stadium represents these things in a physical form. But actually these things are not physical. They are emotional connections.

“There’s a tremendous responsibility to make sure that the next generations of Milan fans will be able to experience the same kind of pride, the same kind of connection that past generations have felt and feel. And so this feeling of community and belonging is more difficult to describe because of course, it’s doesn’t haven’t a physical presence. These are feelings. But that responsibility is above everything.

“The responsibility to make sure that this club is connecting with and giving pride to future generations of Milan fans and to the city of Milano. That responsibility for me is really above everything.

“If we allow the romanticism that everybody in football feels for San Siro to be the most important thing, to allow the concrete of San Siro to be the most important thing, the physical representation of those emotions and not the emotions themselves, then, I’m sorry to say Italian football will continue to miss its opportunity and future generations will have a Milan that does not reflect what Milan has been and what it can be again.

“To me, that would be a tragedy. We need a new stadium. We need a new stadium to create memories, to create pride, to push our city forward and to push our clubs forward for future generations of fans.”

The former Arsenal chief also provided an optimistic reflection on the potential that Milan have to become a European giant once again.

“Italian football has the biggest opportunity to grow and if, within that, I think of a team that has the biggest opportunity to grow it’s Milan,” he said.

““We have to modernise the way football is thought of as a business in Italy. It’s essential if football is going to grow in the way it can here. Italian football has not internationalised itself. It has not modernised all of its operations. It does not have modern stadiums. That’s a massive opportunity. Juventus have led the way but other clubs are following.”

Tags AC Milan Ivan Gazidis James Murray