With so many comments recently surrounding the club and its brass, we wanted to take a deeper look inside of the executive team at Fiorentina, focusing on the roles and responsibilities of Fiorentina’s big three – Commisso, Barone and Pradè. Today we will focus on what you should expect from Rocco Commisso and Joe Barone and then briefly introduce Daniele Pradè, whom we will have a second article focusing exclusively on his 20 years of success and his most recent stint in Firenze.
Since taking over as the owner of Fiorentina, Rocco Commisso has taken on the role of a CEO. Although he has not been in Firenze full time, Rocco has spent about 80-90% of his days focusing on Fiorentina even when he is in the States. As CEO, Rocco is the one who creates the vision and direction for this club, creates budgets and approves contracts. While he has limited exposure to Serie A thought leaders, he is the one who works with his executive leadership and evaluates who to hire or fire, a situation he is now under fire for following the performance or lack thereof (depending on your stance) from Beppe Iachini’s team.
Every CEO knows that they have a responsibility to both the short-term and long-term goals of the club, something Rocco knows but is reminded of daily by Fiorentina’s fans. To help bolster the paltry revenue of the club he negotiated (with himself) a 25 million euro sponsor contract with Mediacom and set the budget for each transfer window. Keep in mind that he is now providing about a quarter of the overall annual Fiorentina revenue.
Rocco has decided the best use of his time and talents is spent focusing on the future of the Stadium and Centro Sportivo. Many have criticized him for focusing so much of his time, effort and dollars here, but in truth, this is the right decision. A recent study conducted by Deloitte and published a month ago suggests that after a 250 million euro investment into a new stadium Fiorentina would recognize 50 million euros more a year in revenue that could be directed towards player salaries and the transfer window. Can you imagine if Fiorentina had built a stadium years ago what a mercato would look like? Can you imagine how Firoentina could spend 50 million euros more a year? Could Fiorentina have surrounded Federico Chiesa with enough talent to show him a project worthy of his ambitions? Would players like Nikola Milenkovic be more motivated to put pen to paper?
While Rocco has plenty of money, he cannot spend it liberally because of the laws that govern spending (unless you are Manchester City, AC Milan and a host of other large clubs). If Fiorentina had facilities that produced exponential revenue and were attractive to players on the market, the job of bringing in and retaining top talent would become much easier. After all, who wouldn’t want to live in the world’s most beautiful city?
While Rocco has spent a good portion of his time negotiating, designing and now building these two structures, the thought that it means no one is spending time on the squad is simply not true. Rocco has told me several times that he is a guy who invests in and enables people that are proficient at their assigned task and then gives them the time and resources to perform their responsibilities, which leads us to Joe Barone and Daniele Pradè.
Joe Barone has been a long-time trusted advisor to Rocco Commisso. If Rocco is responsible for creating the vision, it is Joe who makes it come to life. Before taking over as the head of Fiorentina, Joe was running Rocco’s first sports team: the legendary New York Cosmos.
Joe’s role at Fiorentina is focused around the club’s business, media and fan relationships. When Fiorentina changed out Le Coq and brought in Kappa, this was a Joe Barone initiative. Joe has also worked diligently to reengage the local fans as well as extend Fiorentina’s reach in Tuscany. He has focused on building better relationships with the local youth through several initiatives including elementary aged school outreach, in-school programs, youth football collaboration and a new baby welcome kit.
When I was last in Firenze in December of 2019 Joe told me that while the local relationships are his first focus, a better and more engaged relationship with all global fans is a priority too. This was further proven by the English-speaking twitter handle, the ever expanding world of Fiorentina Viola Clubs and several of the player/coach interviews we have been granted.
It is fair to question if Kappa was the right kit manufacturer to replace Le Coq. Many of the fan’s complaints regarding Le Coq remain. Kappa has brought some unique designs to Fiorentina, but the reception of some kits have been mixed. Prices for jerseys did come down, although only marginally. Global fans that were hoping to tap into a larger distribution network have been left disappointed as Kappa surprisingly does not sell football gear through their website, leaving Fiorentina’s online store and ViolaNation friend AleViola as the two main options for merchandise. While some have hoped for a more ambitious manufacturer, Kappa is definitely a step up.
The biggest part of the Kappa deal though is the negotiations done by Barone. The LQS contract that Rocco took over from the Delle Valle era paid the club zero percent on all merchandise sold. Somehow Le Coq negotiated a golden goose of a deal from Fiorentina many years ago, something Barone ensured wouldn’t happen again.
That brings us to Fiorentina’s Director of Sport, Daniele Pradè. Now on his second stint inside of Firenze, Daniele has just completed his third transfer window. One of the first appointments by Rocco Commisso upon his purchase of the club, Pradè is coming off recent stops at Sampdoria and Udinese. Because of the depth of Pradè’s history of successes and the analysis needed on changes he made since his return to Fiorentina, we will look at this in a separate article.