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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Italian Soccer Can’t Seem To Figure Out Its Billion-Dollar Business

  • Juventus is pushing back on a report that the club is preparing to be sold.
  • Milan's two clubs are shifting gears on a long-planned stadium project.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The turbulent, often dysfunctional nature of Italian soccer has now extended to uncertainties surrounding the long-term future of Serie A’s most decorated club.

The ownership group of Juventus has pushed back on a local report claiming it was preparing to sell the club in the wake of poor recent financial performance — a rumor that spiked the club’s shares nearly 5%.

Owned for the last century by the Agnelli family via holding company Exor, Juventus was valued at $2.16 billion by Forbes this year — making it the 11th-richest soccer club in the world. Juventus’ 36 Serie A titles are the most in league history.

Tough Business

Juventus’ plight is just the latest precarious situation plaguing the increasingly complicated business of Italian soccer, where the promise of international investment often runs up against the reality of local roadblocks.

Since 2019, the other two most popular clubs in Italy, AC Milan and Inter Milan — which are respectively owned by American firm RedBird Capital Partners and Chinese company Suning Holdings Group — have been planning to build a new $1.3 billion stadium together, replacing the 96-year-old San Siro stadium they currently share. 

But now, the clubs are both considering separate projects because local officials are blocking their joint plan. “It’s challenging because, in Italy, it’s difficult to build anything,” AC Milan co-owner Riccardo Silva told Front Office Sports. “In the last 20 years, only two stadiums were built. It’s all very complicated.”

Meanwhile, Serie A has had to delay negotiations for its next set of media rights deals as recent bids were not meeting the $1 billion-plus threshold the league seeks.

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