MILAN – Erick Thohir addressed a number of topics when he spoke to the media following this morning's board meeting.
Here you can read the president's comments:
What do you have to say about the recent rumours that the club is up for sale?
"First of all, we're happy to be here. We've always supported the team in the last two years and we'll continue to do so. With today's appointment of Giovanni Gardini, we've completed our management team and it's a great management team. We're not selling the club because I have no intention of selling my majority share. I've heard that has been said but I don't know who puts out these rumours.
"It's true that we're working with Goldman Sachs but that's because 190 million of our 264 million worldwide fans live in the Asia-Pacific region and it's where our commercial future lies. It's no coincidence that we've recently opened our first office in Asia. We already have a number of interests in Asia – such as Inter Academy and our agreement with Le Sports – but we want to do even more.
"Another important topic is Financial Fair Play. Obviously there are parameters that we have to stay within but overall we've improved since last year in financial terms. Our revenue has increased from 160 to 180 million. We have a five-year plan in place and if the club needs money we'll provide the capital, but of course we have to be careful with all the changes going on globally.
"We're looking for a partner in Asia and that's why I've been in contact with Goldman Sachs. I want to be sure of finding a partner in China that we can rely on from a commercial perspective and I've asked Goldman Sachs to do that. We need to be open to this sort of situation because football is now a global game. There are lots of foreign owners in the Premier League.
"If someone is interested in buying a portion of shares then we can discuss it but as things stand no one has taken a step in that direction. A lot of clubs, not only Inter, are looking for partners. Serie A is adapting to the changes and if we want Inter to grow then we too must adapt. As I said, our revenue is on the rise: we've gone from €164 million with the Europa League to €180 million with no European football. We've grown by more than 10% and that's positive."
Have you ever been worried about the club's situation in the last year?
"If you love Inter, it's right to worry because that shows love. What matters is that we're working and we have a five-year plan. As you know, our aim is to get back into the Champions League and that's what we're working towards but even if we don't qualify we know what we have to do. We have plans in place, with or without European football. And anyone who thinks we'd be finished if we don't get into the Champions League is wrong.
"Every president has the own way of doing things, and I have mine, but I understand how football works. Over the last two years I've got to know Serie A better and we've found the right set-up on the football side and at club level too."
What about the money you've lent to Inter? Some people see that as part of the debt...
“That's money that I've put in – nothing compared to what Massimo Moratti put in before me of course, it's just not comparable. But it's normal that I should inject capital – you have to do that to develop a company and it's not a problem. Our aim is to grow Inter. We can't make comparisons because I haven't won any trophies yet but we're working on that."
Why have you decided to talk so much today?
“That's not correct. Today we announced our new management structure with Giovanni Gardini coming in as Chief Football Administrator and this meeting with the media was scheduled – you can check my diary. I didn't choose to talk to you because of the reports that have come out recently. This was always my plan for today."
Italian football as a whole has been struggling recently...
“As presidents we all need to share our ideas on how best to move Italian football forward. Serie A needs to grow and move into the Asian market because that's where the future lies, certainly in terms of TV rights and commercial aspects. We need to find a global market for Serie A – that's my opinion."
Is Pirelli a good partner for Inter?
"We've been working with Pirelli for over 20 years and we have the same objectives. We want to grow on a global level – that's why we held a press conference together in China. This year we'll go to the States and I'm sure we'll speak with Pirelli again, perhaps finding a way to involve Brooks Brothers as well, another of our partners. It's important to have this sort of commercial partnership. We have to protect our brand. Together."
What message would you like to give to the fans?
"Let's beat Juventus – that's the most important thing! We were top of the league in December and now we're fifth but our target has always been to get into the Champions League. We've brought in lots of new players but we won't do the same again this year because we need continuity. We'll perhaps sign three or four new players tops and we won't be changing our coach. Roberto Mancini is our coach, he has our full backing and a contract and we want to move forward with him. All of the management meet together at the Pinetina every week because it's right to have dialogue between the sports side and the club."
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