When it was announced yesterday that Rocco Commisso would speak today, there was much anticipation among Fiorentina fans, and the media in Florence. Unfortunately, if it’s a press conference you were expecting, with a confrontation between journalists and the club president, then you were in for a disappointment.
After months of silence, (and the last time he spoke it was in an interview on the club’s own website), today we were treated to another one-sided conversation. This is not how things should work between a club and the media. Any journalist who wished to take part was asked to send in a maximum of two audio files with their questions, which Rocco would then listen to. This is like going to take an exam, but you already know the questions and have the answers prepared. If this is how the club intends to communicate, it’s a very worrying trend.
The recordings of the questions were played a few at a time, with Rocco then responding, more or less. Was anyone surprised to hear Rocco Commisso speak of money, agents, journalists, and what other clubs have done or haven’t done? Honestly, it really was just more of the same. President Commisso began by reassuring everyone that after a very difficult health situation he was now improving. He admitted that he made a mistake in coming back to Florence to speak to Vlahović in December, which only made his condition worse.
When asked about the club’s objectives, Rocco first wanted to remind people what has happened in the last few years, as journalists seem to forget it quite often. Before his arrival, Fiorentina survived relegation on the final day, and in his first season in charge they had climbed to tenth place, ensuring us that no other owner had done as well in their first year at a club. The second year he said he was wrong to listen to what other people wanted, by sacking Iachini, and he takes responsibility for the poor championship that season. So, he’s saying we would have done better had he kept Iachini on the bench?
As for this year, only three other teams improved their points total from last season, while many others have worsened. Fiorentina gained 22 points more than last year, and Rocco is sure that no other team in Europe has managed to do as well. Then came the always hot topic of the stadium, when Rocco’s belief that owning their own stadium is fundamental for the club was questioned.
Rocco insisted that the stadium is key, as long as it’s profitable. “This year the takings have improved somewhat but the teams that are ahead of us have a much higher salary budget than ours. And without income, you can’t spend on players. The revenues are currently financed by Mediacom, which did not happen with the Della Valle family, but to reduce the gap with those in front of us we must increase revenues “
We did finally get some thoughts on the future, “Working in the bank and with Mediacom, I learned that making promises without keeping them makes you lose credibility. This year I said we would be on the left side of the standings: no one expected seventh place and instead we had a great championship. I must therefore thank Italiano and all the people who have allowed us to achieve this result “
On the subject of money, Rocco said that many people are mistaken about the figures, “we always want to try to improve ourselves as much as possible with the revenues, to compete with those who can spend more money on the players. This year we have done a great job selling Vlahović and before him Chiesa, making large capital gains that help us avoid problems with financial fair play. This does not mean that cash has arrived. Yes, money arrives but we have also spent money. The real figure that will arrive in the coming months is 50 million and not 150 million. We also need the money from Chiesa and Vlahović to pay the players we have already brought in.”
When it came to the achievement of European qualification, Commisso said that they always wanted to improve, however it’s difficult to compete with clubs which have earnings two or three times higher than ours. As ever, Rocco is well informed on what is happening at other clubs, “Juventus in recent years has put 700 million on the market and today its stock market value is 800 million. Suning has lost control of his company, they have a lot of debt, and another company may take over in the next few months. Milan will be sold but it is not said that Mister Li lost 500 million. About Roma many have talked about the great work done. But after the arrival of the Friedkins they arrived seventh and then sixth, only one point above us. They spent a lot but reaching only a slightly better placement than ours. So, our result is phenomenal, and we must be proud of it “.
Asked whether he intended to remain in charge of the club or sell up, it was the typically defiant Rocco, “I’ve been saying for a year that if there is a Florentine who wants to buy it, I’m ready. But nothing has come up yet and I have never talked to anyone about it. I have read a lot of fake news around but Rocco leaves when Rocco decides. And for now, I have no intention of leaving. I have also received threats and soon we will see the police about this”.
Rocco Commisso still seems obsessed with what Atalanta have achieved, “Atalanta have done a great job over the years but it took them 5 years to get beyond 10th place. We finished tenth in the first year and in the third we are in seventh place. The new ownership has seen a deterioration, as have the new properties in Parma and Genoa. Let’s look at how much good has been done in the last three years”.
I think what most of us were eager to hear about, was the Lucas Torreira situation, but the response didn’t really clear things up, “I am very disappointed with what happened in the 24 hours after we took seventh place. And many have fallen for it. The news has been put forward by those who take advantage of it, and I am talking about the agents. When this is done, he won’t win with me. But I don’t want to talk about the transfer market, and this will remain the job of my team. There are other people involved in the market and I don’t want to talk about it. There may be an opportunity to revisit the situation with Torreira in the coming weeks, but I don’t want to give positive or negative signals “
The topic of Vlahović was always going to be addressed, with Rocco going into more detail on what happened, “with Vlahović in the first half of the season we were seventh, without him we finished seventh. At Juve he scored the same number of goals as Piątek and Cabral. We didn’t lose much with Vlahović. Someone said that with Vlahović we would have reached the Champions League. What are they, gypsies who read the future? When I returned to Florence to deal with Vlahović, the player and agent they did not behave well. Ristić said he only wanted to see me and no one else. Every half hour or an hour he went to the bathroom and there he had two friends. He tricked me while I was alone. The first day everything went well, the next day he offered me an agreement: The Vlahović deal can be done for 8 million net. From 4 to 8 within 24 hours…. Plus 3 million and the percentage of Vlahović’s sale.
After that, I told my staff to close the situation and find another centre forward as soon as possible. And we got Piątek. The “gentleman” who ruined us had promised to renew and we hadn’t hired anyone in September. When we took on Piątek and then we wanted Cabral, he understood that Rocco could put him on the bench. He learned from that lesson, I don’t know how long they talked to Juventus but in the space of a week Juventus, after they rejected Real, Atletico Madrid and Arsenal, they closed the deal. I took 75 million unlike all those who lost players at zero. I made money to regularize the economic situation.”
After speaking of Cabral, and how he may not have scored much but he was optimistic for his future, he returned to his pause for reflection earlier this year, “The last time I spoke was in February. It is not acceptable for how some people in my family have been treated. These things disgust me and who knows, maybe over time I can even leave. I dedicate a lot of time to Fiorentina, more than I dedicate to Mediacom. But there are too many people who do not want the good of Fiorentina: not only journalists but also opinionists and fans “.
To finish up, Rocco informed us that there would be another meeting regarding the stadium situation in the next few weeks, and then went on to speak about Viola Park, “we started the works with a budget between 60-70 million, but now we have reached 100 million euros. It will be one of the biggest investments not only in Italy but also in Europe. That’s more than what was spent on the Atalanta and Udinese stadiums, and close to how much Juventus spent on the Stadium. I have heard stupid people, and there are many in Florence, say that I did it for profit. I want to hear if these fools want to invest so they can help me with this big expense. This is a great gift to the team, which will help Fiorentina move forward. The Primavera did a great job by winning four Italian Cups and the whole youth sector is doing very well. I want to congratulate them because it’s one of the strengths of this club “.
If you wanted to find out the economic situation of Italy’s top clubs, then you came to the right place. If you thought that the sale of Vlahović would mean plenty of money to spend in the next transfer window, then you look set to be disappointed. The Torreira situation is only set to drag on, with no clarity provided on this, although Daniele Pradè is due to hold a press conference in the coming days.
For the future, apart from improving the internet connection, let’s hope Rocco Commisso will start replying directly to journalists. This story of having the questions in advance and choosing how to answer beforehand is of no advantage to anybody. It’s clear that Rocco Commisso has been left disappointed by criticism of his running of the club, but that’s a part of the world of football. The last thing anybody wants is a situation similar to the latter part of the Della Valle era, with an owner no longer passionate about the club.
Let’s be clear, right now money is the only thing that matters. When it was mentioned that Milan had lost Donnarumma without getting any money but still won the league title, Rocco’s response was that at least he had made money. If you are a supporter of bank balances and profits, it’s all good news, if it’s football you’re interested in, then we’ve just enjoyed a great season, but the future right now is very unclear.