The importance of Inter finding investment

Posted by Mike Whittaker

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesMassimo Moratti has been busy behind the scenes at Inter Milan.

It was only a few weeks ago that there was a buzz of excitement surrounding Inter with all the talk of Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir wanting to invest in the club. Over the last few weeks however, any further news of the sale of stakes in the club seems to have disappeared off the Nerazzurri radar completely, with Massimo Moratti seemingly reluctant to sell any percentage of his shares. This may mean that the negotiations on the deal for the Nerazzurri are stalling or has fallen through completely, and that would be disastrous for Inter. Whether the money comes from Thohir or a different source is irrelevant. The important thing is that the club desperately needs capital introduced, construction of a stadium to enable the club to support itself financially, and just generally a more professional, business motivated structure put into place.

The one thing no one seems to want to accept is the reality of the situation that the club finds itself in. I'm not talking about the last two dire seasons on the pitch; that is just a by-product of the real issue of the clubs finances. Year after year Moratti's club has been making multi-million Euro losses, and the scary truth of the matter is that if something doesn't change in the near future, they could end up following in Napoli's footsteps and become bankrupt.

Ironically, it actually turned out quite well for Napoli and in less than a decade they are now once again fighting for honours at the top of the Serie A table. However, for a club like Inter that prides itself for never having playing outside the top flight of Italian football, building themselves up from the lowest levels of the league structure is something none of the fans want to see happen. After all, who is to say Inter will be as fortunate as Napoli? Despite being multiple Scudetto and European champions, there would be no guarantee that it wouldn't take decades to return to the top. Of course, I'm not expecting this to happen, I'm just making the point to emphasis that no matter how big the club is it doesn't make them invincible.

This is why all the talk of Inter building their own stadium is so vital for the future of the mighty Nerazzurri. The figures published by Forbes in April this year show the huge difference financially between Inter who rent the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium and Juventus who own their own stadium. Obviously the fact that Juve won the Scudetto last season and participated in the Champions League this season has had an effect on the figures, but even if you just take into account the difference in match-day revenue, you can see straight away how Inter could easily halve their yearly losses just on ticket sales alone. Inter's match-day revenue is shown as $45 million compared to Juventus' $102 million; this is a phenomenal difference especially when you consider that Inter has a larger average match-day attendance than Juve.

Juventus also have increased their revenues in several other different ways too, leading to commercial revenues of $207 million in comparison to Inter's somewhat pathetic $87 million. The opportunities for Inter to make money through a new stadium are endless, with renting out retail and restaurant space in the complex, sponsorship deals, as well as many other money making incentives. Most people would agree this makes the stadium project a huge priority for the club.

Inter President Moratti knows the value of a new stadium to the club, so why has he now let two fantastic opportunities of investment fall to the wayside? (Presuming that Thohir's deal really is dead in the water) Only Moratti himself knows the answer to that, but if I was to make a guess, I'd say it's because he feels that if he has to involve anyone else into the running of the club, it may be seen as a failure on his part. No one can deny Moratti has done many wonderful things for the club over the years and led them to claim numerous trophies and honours, but his frivolous spending of years gone by, combined with the way he's let the club be run, has put the club he loves so much in the precarious position they find themselves.

I actually think Moratti knows that it has been his mistakes which have caused the current problems, but his pride makes him believe he can turn things around and enable the Moratti family to save Inter without any outside help. Unfortunately, I really can't see that happening, and if he really wants to do what's best for the club as he's stated recently, then he must sacrifice his family's dominant position within the club for the greater good.

I'm not saying the Moratti family should hand over the club completely, as I think they offer something to the club that no one else could -- passion. However, for the club to become a powerhouse again, Inter needs a board of directors with the right business acumen to make all the important decisions and to advise Moratti.

Personally, I see the Moratti family a bit like the British royal family. Many of you may not agree with what I'm about to say, but bear with me as it explains my view on this perfectly. I am proud that my country still has their Queen; the royal family for me encompasses the nobility and history of my country. They are a living reminder of the centuries gone by that has made the UK what it is today and it is this history that makes me proud to be British, but as much as I want them to be the public face of my country to the wider world, I wouldn't really want the Queen making all the vital decisions regarding how the UK is run. It just wouldn't work in this modern world.

For me, it is exactly the same with Massimo Moratti and his family. They epitomise everything great about FC Internazionale and they are the face of the club around the world, but they aren't the right people to lead the club through this modern era of football. For that, Inter needs a select group of people that can see the bigger picture of which direction the club needs to move in and work with the Morattis to strengthen the club on the foundations built over the decades in a way that will take the heritage and history of the Nerazzurri into the future.

I just hope that Moratti will realise how important bringing foreign investment to the club is before it's too late. I've always said I would always support Inter even if they were in the lowest of Italy's leagues, but I hope that is one promise I will never be forced to prove.

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