CAN'T STOP, WON'T STOP - Suning will continue the revolution to make Inter elite, starting with new stadium, finding even more sponsors and potentially replacing Nike (2024) and Pirelli (2021)
A legend in Appiano Gentile tells us that when Rafa Benitez became an Inter coach, replacing Jose Mourinho, he asked for the removal of all photos of the Portuguese from training ground. The idea (whether it’s real or fantasy) was to avoid confrontations with a winning but cumbersome past. Today, instead, the Chinese of Inter has changed everything, keeping just those images of the treble season: the project is to return to winning again. And to do this, Suning has turned the page in just one year: from within management to symbolic players, from coaching to economic policies, from headquarters to songs.
What also remain are just a handful of starters, some very historic sponsors and the stadium. But the revolution is certainly not over: the growth process will continue with more changes. At the start of last season, 2018-2019, Erick Thohir was president, Giuseppe Marotta was Juventus executive, Spalletti signed a new deal and began his second year, Nainggolan was club’s biggest signing, Icardi and Perisic were still scoring with four of the first five goals for Inter. The new signings then went to the club HQ in Corso Vittorio Emanuele for signing contract and the fans sang before and after the match “Amala, Pazza Inter amala:” in between, they often saw tangible signs of how crazy Inter were.
One year later, everything is different, also with the club anthem: the most sensational change is the renunciation of three stars, including its former captain and top goalscorer. But the greetings to Nainggolan, Perisic and Icardi were the latest steps of the revolution and a consequence of a process started with the Zhang presidency and CEO Marotta. Distractions, messy cases, negative ending of last season all have led to accelerations and program changes at the sporting level. But the transformation started earlier, even before Steven took the lead. The change of headquarters to Viale della Liberazione had been planned for some time, the other changes then took off after October 26th when Zhang Jr took the reins.
Within six months, the governing body of Inter changed, giving full power to Marotta and finding a new and more “coherent” minority shareholder to take over Thohir’s shares. And consequently, that also changed the board of directors. In the meantime, the Inter Women team was born (then promoted to Serie A only after one season) and roles continued to change in management, including a new communication officer. Furthermore, Inter Media House was created to independently promote the brand.
At the Christmas dinner, Zhang imagined the Inter of the future will “crush everyone” and he was convinced by Marotta to make strong economic effort to sign Conte. Oriali then returned and then Inter just had a shopping campaign of €150M, without allowing outgoing operations to compromise their plans.
And what now? What will be the next moves of a club that wants to position itself among the world’s elites? If on the market, we can hypothesize an attack to sign Chiesa in 2020 (“young and Italian” is Inter’s other policy) and a world class midfielder, the next turning point will be on sponsorships and infrastructures.
In Appiano, work is underway to build a new building (€6M) that will host the players (training camp and many other club events etc…) and it is going to be ready in April. For a bigger building, the new San Siro, things are a bit more complex but it is potentially decisive for the qualitative leap in revenues that continues to grow and must continue to grow to allow Suning and Inter to self-sustain under the guideline of UEFA Financial Fair Play. In the last 12 months, local and global sponsors have been added (the last was Lenovo) but the biggest games are yet to be played on the “main” sponsors. The link with technical sponsor Nike is still long (contracted until 2024) but the figures are very far away not only from top European clubs but also from Juventus.
The Pirelli sponsorship is historic, but the (almost) €19M that will arrive for 2018-2019 season (bonuses included) is far from €50M objective. For now, Inter will work on finding a sponsor to put on the sleeve but Pirelli contract only expires in 2021 (I believe they have exclusive rights, Inter cannot put any other brand/sponsorship on the shirt until contract with Pirelli expires). The pursuit of greatness continues and Inter are well on their way.