Speech by President Steven Zhang at the Inter Shareholders' Meeting

SPEECH BY PRESIDENT STEVEN ZHANG AT THE INTER SHAREHOLDERS' MEETING

Good morning Nerazzurri Family,

It is with great pride and joy that we are meeting today for our Shareholders’ Meeting, as Champions of Italy. Last season we achieved something truly historic together – the club’s 19th Scudetto title, which Nerazzurri fans had spent 11 years waiting for. For all the Inter fans this is an incredible feeling, something that cannot be put into words. It is something we all felt with even greater intensity because it came at such a difficult time in all our lives, transmitting hope and joy, as only sport can do. It’s an emotion that we will never forget.  

This success is proof that any challenge can be overcome with determination and commitment. For this, I want to thank all the women and men at Inter: the male and female players, from the youngsters to the first team, as well as all the staff, employees and executives at the club. I want to thank all of Inter’s Shareholders and partners for your support. This is the result of the huge commitment everyone has shown, both on and off the pitch. 

This was our goal when we first arrived at Inter in 2016. With great determination we have rebuilt the Club, with the objective of returning to victory and to the international standing Inter belongs to.

We are proud to be the first foreign-owned club to win a league title and to bring our fans this great joy. This great triumph crowns the vision, commitment and resources that the ownership has dedicated to the club since its arrival five years ago. We made the impossible possible.

But Inter scored successes also off the pitch, in the Corporate Area lead by our CEO Alessandro Antonello. 

Many things have changed at the club since we came here in 2016. Inter has become more international, more dynamic and more connected with its fans. The club has a new headquarters, in the heart of Milan’s innovation district, our business card towards the world. At the same time, Inter’s sports facilities have been expanded and renovated, providing the Sports Area with one of the best training centres in the world.

This pathway put the club in the perfect position to unveil to the world its new logo, one that represents our evolution from a footballing to a cultural icon and strongly asserts the values that underpin our identity: our international and Milanese nature. This achievement demonstrates the growth of the Nerazzurri colours, including off the pitch, and our openness to the worlds of design, fashion and entertainment. It is a testimony of the new appeal of the Inter brand on a global level, as it expands and looks ahead to the future, with a language aimed at new generations and the creation of new business relationships. 

Nonetheless, all of last season was heavily impacted by the worldwide repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to UEFA estimates, the European football industry as a whole has lost revenues of around 8 billion euro, while costs remained much the same. All of the big clubs have had to review their financial model, and Inter felt a greater impact during a period of expansion in which significant investment was made to bring success back to the club.

Financially, the club suffered significantly, largely due to having to play an entire season behind closed doors, as well as operating against a very difficult economic and social backdrop. The pandemic also tested our relationship with our stakeholders. We have given our utmost focus to – and put maximum effort into – keeping the relationship with our partners and all our fans alive, despite the fact that we were unable to meet and unite in the excitement generated at San Siro. 

My duty as President and Owner, as it has always been and as it will be in the future, is to work for the long-term good of the club. We must be brave and resilient, react in timely fashion and focus on our goals, as we have done this season, managing to secure a historic victory despite all the difficulties. 

The club’s financial stability and sustainability, combined closely with competing at the highest level, are the focal points of our strategy. We are champions of Italy and we are proud to fight – as is our duty – on every pitch. That is what our history and our DNA requires of us and what all our fans in Italy and around the world deserve. 

Every business must be able to adapt to change, analysing the specific economic context and conducting long-term planning, seizing opportunities for restructuring and growth. 

The operations we have concluded this summer go in this direction. We welcomed a new coach, Simone Inzaghi, with a winning spirit and who have fully embraced our values. Our team was made able to keep and expand in the future the performing level that we reached over the last years. Our sports area - lead by our Sport CEO Beppe Marotta - made a very good job on this. 

Corporate wise we have secured prestigious deals at the beginning of the season, that are proof of the growing international appeal of Inter as a global brand and innovative platform. Even in this economic context still widely impacted by the pandemic our jersey has reached the highest overall value in our history.

We are implementing a modern and sustainable business model for the Club, the only possible model that responds to our strategy of working long term for the good of the Club, and we are sure that we will see the first results already by this season. 

The Club will operate with the aim of stabilising its finances by carefully managing costs and consolidating and expanding revenue streams.  

It will be essential to continue with investments in infrastructure and to provide adequate resources for the club’s development, on and off the pitch. 

In this context the new stadium projects becomes even more relevant, a key asset to develop a stable revenue stream for the club, to enhance the brand’s positioning and to guarantee the best possible experience for our fans at our own home. We are sure that we will be able to gain full collaboration from city institutions on the realisation of this project. 

The complexity brought about by the pandemic has forced the entire football industry to finally face up to change. To protect the future of our sport, there will need to be a change of pace and openness towards innovation and new global horizons. Inter will strive, in partnership with political and footballing institutions, on both Italian and international levels, to bring forward the ideas and reforms necessary to ensure the sustainable growth of football.

Over the last year many were the rumours that surrounded the club and the commitment of the ownership into Inter. However, none of them are true. We are Inter and as one of the most important clubs in Europe we know we are always in the spotlight, fake and unfunded rumours and speculations will always surround us. It’s just a matter staying focused on our true objectives and moving forward. 

Our project and commitment are long-term, with a clear and defined vision. The work we have done over the past 5 years and this 19th Scudetto are the best proof. Our solid roots push us to look far ahead. We are looking to the future, with huge ambition and a rebuilt and rediscovered winning mentality. The happiness we have been able to give our fans once again is a source of great pride for us and we fully believe the path we have embarked upon is the right one and that it will ensure a great future for the club. 

Forza Inter!


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