James Pallotta attended the Serie A Roadsow that took place in New York. The AS Roma President explained his objectives for the club and his point of view about Italian football. He also mentioned important strategies that the management is implementing to increase the popularity of the Roma brand.
“Five years ago we looked at Roma and other teams in Europe but this club was different. We have seen a city that you can’t recreate. You know the history of Rome, the fashion of La Dolce Vita, and the photography of the 50’s and 60’s, the movies. So the way we looked at it is to create a global sports brand.
The most important thing we have to do now is to have a good team on the pitch and I believe we have done a very good job on that but we are still not where we want to be. In the last four years since we got the club, we have reached the Champions League three times out of four so we have done a good job on the pitch but Juventus has done an incredible job, Napoli is right there, Inter and Milan are coming back and then Fiorentina and Lazio.
However, when we looked at Roma it is also because we thought that the Italian league was the most attractive league. 15 years ago it was the best league in the world by far. But the Premier League did a much better job in terms of packaging although I still think that in terms of games the Italian league is strategically and tactically a much better league. I also think that there are many good teams. Italy has 5-6 top teams versus Spain that has probably only three, France and Germany have a couple of great clubs. The Italian league is comparable to the Premier League and now we got that distribution that it deserves.
Most people don’t realize the massive fan base that the Italian football has in the rest of the world. Let me give you a few examples. We found an AS Roma arabic speaking fan club in Saudi Arabia with 800,000 members. When we took our youth team to Vietnam 6,000 people showed up at the airport and around 20,000 were in the stands. When we went to Indonesia many people lined up along from the airport to the stadium. But when we got to the stadium we saw that they have their own Curva Sud and amazingly for two hours they sang Roma songs in Italian.
In terms of AS Roma, we figured that we had to get the team in shape first and we did that. Even together we Claudio (Fenucci) when he was with us. One of the first things that we did was also to build our studios and right now it produces more content than any other team in Italy by a factor of 3+ and in Europe we are up there in the top two in terms of content.
Then we built our own TV station which is distributing magazine typed content around the world. Then we built out Roma Radio and what is really interesting is that in Rome there are nine radio stations that only talk about football. We bought a radio license because we needed to create our own channel to get the truth out there.
Around two years ago, we needed 9 months to realize how we were going to build our website. The last thing we wanted to do is to be a typical sports website because we are actually a media content company. The way we look at this team is focussing on what we have experience in, a triangle made of sport, media & entertainment where we have 35 years of experience, and technology in which I invested in the last 35 years as well. If we look at this triangle it is a sort of whole mission. Our website is the first crowdsourcing website where a lot of our fans produce content. Two months ago our website was named best sports website in the world. Now it is just a matter of producing a lot more content and getting our stadium.
The other key in terms of brand for Roma is to build our own stadium and we should get the final approval in around 10 days, we will brake ground in February or March. The stadium will be about 55,000 sits plus over 200,000 square feet of entertainment space. It will be located 15 minutes from downtown, 15 minutes from the airport, we are on the river where we are going to build docks and we are going to build two train lines. All of this is because we are trying to create a global brand but we need the stadium.”