Not for the first time, President Andrea Della Valle is angry at Fiorentina fans, accusing a “minority” of having an unacceptable atttiude. This is not the first time this has happened, in 2009, during another period of discontent and poor communication between management and the supporters, ADV stepped down as President, briefly taking a more hands off role before returning to his position as the club figurehead.
The relationship between the supporters and the Della Valles has always been mixed, but Andrea has been the brother who seemed dedicated to the project. Family patrician, majority owner, and lifelong Inter fan Diego, the man behind the Tod’s shoe empire, always seemed like he saw the club as nothing but another asset while his focus was elsewhere. On the other hand, Andrea could be regularly spotted at games celebrating wildly, and has typically been a positive mouthpiece for the family. In 2009 when he last had a rift with the Viola tifosi, things only got worse as new president Mario Cognigni and the even more outspoken Diego Della Valle has no idea how to talk with the disgruntled supporters.
Is ADV right to imply a sector of the support base is ungrateful? The Della Valle era has given us a lot to be proud of - they revived the club, restored it to its place as one of the most competitive teams in Italy, and have given us some truly memorable seasons. Although spending has often not been as generous as many of us would like, the Della Valles have focused on creating a sustainable club that would not implode the way it did following mismanagement at the end of the Cecchi Gori era. They have promoted a culture of corporate responsibility unparalleled in the Italian football world, emphasizing youth development, collaboration with charities, and recently, have become pioneers in women’s football, becoming the first Serie A club to own a women’s team that is already the best Italy has to offer.
But while all this is nice, the fans still care about winning, and two decades of Della Valle ownership have failed to produce any silverware. There’s only so much a club this size can do in an era of unprecedented inequality in football, but to expect the fans to be always able to accept that, especially after such a forgettable season, is asking for too much.
And that is the biggest issue with ADV’s complaints right now - the club has shown zero motivation this season, and to wonder why the fans would be angry shows a disconnect that we would expect more from Diego than Andrea. The supports can be irrational, but to expect transparent attempts to distract them with talk of a new stadium - which has been ongoing for as long as the Della Valles have been in Florence, or by bringing back club legends in administrative roles - we are all happy the Della Valles ended their feud with Giancarlo Antognoni, but his presence can only do so much when the club has been unwatchable every other game this year, shows that whatever passion Andrea Della Valle once had for the Viola might finally be extinguished.
I’m not suggesting that it might be time for the family to sell - as a Fiorentina fan I already know how much worse it can be, but the organization needs new ideas, or the relationship between management and supporters will only get worse.