AC Milan’s CEO Ivan Gazidis has once again reiterated the importance of building a new stadium as part of the club’s vision for the future moving forward.
Gazidis spoke during an interview with Forbes, who report how Milan and Inter will move on from the 96-year-old San Siro before the decade is done, building a new home through a project that will reportedly cost €900 million to €950 million and will be 100 per cent funded by the two clubs.
It has been a hard battle at times against the City Council, but Gazidis believes that things are moving in the right direction and that the shared vision of the respective ownerships will soon become a reality.
“We know this is necessary for the club. We’ve known for the last three years of working on this project that it must happen if the club is going to have the future that its fans want it to have. And I would say that the city of Milano wants its two clubs to have,” he said.
“It’s transformational for the two football clubs, Milan and Inter, in their journey to be back at the top of European football. And it’s transformational, actually, for Italian football because we’ve had a decade which has been dominated by Juventus in their new stadium. That’s not healthy for a league that needs to grow its global appeal.”
Gazidis knows that a new stadium can have a big impact as his time at Major League Soccer saw him encourage investment in football-specific stadiums, while the hope is that it will be the start of a new trend in Italy too.
“And that will revitalise Italian football. Football in Italy is such an important part of the fabric of the country. And I think one of the sad things over the last couple of decades has been the slow and steady decline of Italian football, in comparison with the other European leagues.
“This is a necessary step. If we don’t build stadiums in Italy, we know what the future will be. We know what we’re handing to our children. And the inheritance that they will have is a league that continues to be on a long, slow, steady decline.
“That’s not a future that is a responsible one to hand to the next generation. I don’t believe that is the future of Italian football. I think Italian football is absolutely ready for revitalisation.”
Gazidis also revealed his concern that the gap between the Premier League and other leagues in terms of revenue generated and TV money is growing.
“That’s a concern across European football. The gap is not closing, it’s growing. We’ve seen some of the smaller nations, with great teams, suffering badly because their domestic market is not big enough to support the kind of increase in spending that this new (broadcast) revenue allows.
“Great clubs like Celtic or Rangers or Ajax in smaller media markets have been struggling to keep up and find very creative ways to do that. I think they’ve done very well but it’s more and more difficult.
“We obviously see this tension growing within the European game. The reality is that the Premier League today is the super league. The rest of Europe has to find ways to stand and compete toe to toe with the Premier League.
“In the same way I don’t think it’s healthy that Juventus would dominate Serie A for a decade or more, we’re seeing that trend in France, we’re seeing it in Germany as well. That’s not healthy for competition.”
On Friday, it was announced that left-back Theo Hernández renewed his contract with the club until 2026 and Gazidis believes this is an indication of the strength of the project.
“Theo’s a great example of somebody we consider to be a world class talent that we brought in and helped to develop with us. So he has grown with us,” he added.
“I would still say we are a work in progress. We are still progressing towards where we want to be. But we’re clearly on the right path.
“And the foundation of that is young players that develop with Milan into world-class talents which then raise the level of the team, which then increases our revenues, which enables us to invest more into the team to be able to retain them.
“If all we do is look back at a glorious past, we’ll be left behind. It’s already happened. It won’t continue to happen. I’m very optimistic about what we’re going to do. And I’m very confident that we will give something to the clubs, the city and the next generation that will make them feel proud to be Milanese.”