Juventus
    Juventus
      25.10.2018 14:00 - in: Events S

      Andrea Agnelli's speech at shareholders' meeting

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      The president opened proceedings at the 2018 Juventus shareholders' meeting at Allianz Stadium

      Dear shareholders, good morning everyone,

      I would like to begin with a clarification I believe is necessary. A television programme brought attention to incidents, which have already been established at every appropriate level, regarding the club’s connection with organised fan groups. 

      Juventus were sanctioned by sports justice authorities basically for two reasons:

      1) we sold a number of tickets that exceeds the limit established by the Pisanu Law, which stands at four tickets per person;

      2) our head of security Alessandro D’Angelo allowed non-authorised material into the stadium, in the second tier, on the day of the Turin derby in February 2014.

      Clarification is necessary on both these aspects.

      Since the events in question, Juventus have respected all procedures regarding ticket sales to the letter and cannot allow it to be insinuated that our club may still be involved in ticket touting. Alessandro D’Angelo did not facilitate the entry into the stadium of “vile banners”, as I described them in the hours following the incident and as I reiterate today, about the Superga tragedy. This was demonstrated by the ruling passed by the FIGC Court of Appeal on 22 January 2018. What is more, the individuals that made the banner were identified thanks to technology that Juventus made available to law enforcement. The perpetrators were brought to justice and confessed to the act.

      Any other statement is false and unfounded. It’s time that anyone expressing themselves on this incident take the facts, evidence and rulings into consideration. 

      Before moving on to the agenda, I would like to share with you, as is customary, some of my thoughts on how the club is progressing and on our vision for its future.

      For me and my colleagues, 2018 feels a bit like 2010. It is a year of large-scale, extensive changes. However, right now we need to look to the past and see the journey this management team has been on. The journey between 2010 and 2018 has been fascinating, full of extensive, intense work, as well as huge sacrifices from all the men and women of Juventus, a workforce that has more than doubled in size during this period. This illustrates the scale of your club and the transformation that it has undergone.

      As I was saying, this journey has been the fruit of hard work and huge sacrifice but it has also been accompanied by great, great success. In 2010, Juventus’ turnover was below €200 million and today, for the second year running, we are to approve a financial statement with turnover above €500 million.

      We all know what the club has achieved on the pitch, but it’s nice to remind ourselves: seven consecutive Scudetto titles, four Coppa Italia trophies, four Italian super cups, two Champions League finals and, in its first year of existence, a Scudetto for the Juventus women's team. The success has been extraordinary.

      Looking at the past, there are three moments that come to mind, which characterise the start, midpoint and end of this journey between 2010 and 2018. The first is one I have told before: when I arrived in 2010, I wanted to go to the office on one Saturday morning and I found it was locked, which illustrates the level of passion around the club at that time. One year later, on a May Saturday in 2011, I went to the office and there were around 30 people there – that was the first time I truly sensed the change for myself. 

      This morning, when preparing for today’s meeting, I arrived at the office at 7:15 and there were already five or six people here with me. That is the dedication that the people at Juventus have and that is clearly a positive and tangible indication. 

      The growth of a sports club of course depends on success. Success breeds success and it helps you to develop a winning mentality. However, defeats are also something that you can grow and learn from. Without doubt a moment that had an impact on me in terms of our growth, and instilled in me a desire to achieve set objectives, was the Champions League final in Berlin in 2015, when I went to hand out medals to the players on the pitch, and gave our team the runners-up medals. In that moment, hugging each player, one by one, thanking them for the run they had been on, allowed me to keep alive that burning passion that you need to achieve the objectives you set for yourself.

      Last but not least is the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo this summer. The fact that the world’s best player has chosen Juventus, that the club, which I believe to be one of the best in the world, managed to secure the signature of the best player in the world, is something to be hugely proud of.

      I have always believed, and will continue to believe, that it is the team that makes a difference in a company, but having the best professionals in every role helps you achieve the results you have targeted. Having Cristiano now will certainly help us achieve our objectives, but we remain fully aware that this is sport and while you may have earned good results in October, it’s still a long way from achieving something concrete in May.

      In order to tackle our upcoming challenges, between now and 2024, we have made the decision to make changes to the Juventus leadership team. The club’s organisational model will not change and will remain focused on three pillars: services, revenue and, at the very centre, sport.

      Before talking about our aims for the coming years, however, I believe it is only right for me to offer my warm and heartfelt thanks to our two outgoing chief executives: Aldo Mazzia, who is here with us today, and Giuseppe Marotta.

      Aldo joined the Exor Group in 1987, hired by my father. There he held roles in the areas of administration, finance and control, before becoming Chief Administrative Officer of Exor, when it was IFI-IFIL, in charge of administration and reporting, personnel, IT and logistics. 

      He played a key role in the development of all Juventus’ real-estate activities in recent years, with the stadium and the development of the Continassa area two projects that he oversaw personally. The fact we now boast a headquarters close to the stadium, our own stadium, a state-of-the-art training ground, as well as a hotel and concept store close by, is something we owe to Aldo. The whole of Juventus, and myself, are grateful to you for this. Thank you, Aldo.

      Talking about Giuseppe Marotta simply as a football professional risks failing to do his work justice. He has been leading football clubs for the past 40 years. His career began at Varese, before taking him to Monza, Como, Ravenna and Venezia, where had his first big success, taking Venezia back to Serie A after 31 years. Marotta then had a spell at Atalanta before spending eight extraordinary years at Sampdoria, who had achieved Champions League qualification in 2010 when he departed the club. Then he came to Juventus.

      Marotta’s skill, experience and knowledge were fundamental in the club’s growth in a sporting sense and he is also deserving of our warm embrace and applause.

      The ability of Aldo and Giuseppe to develop fellow professionals is what has allowed us to pursue our targets. That is the main characteristic that every leader must have – being able to make future leaders of those below them, who can eventually take over their duties.

      Our decision to continue without these two top executives follows an assessment of the functions and roles present within the company, and is geared towards improving the efficiency of our organisational structure and management costs.

      As such it has been decided to hand greater responsibility to individuals already serving within the company, who have distinguished themselves over the years with excellent results achieved in the tasks entrusted to them.

      Specifically, in the case of Aldo Mazzia’s position, the role of CFO has been assigned to another company post, adding new tasks and prerogatives to the tasks currently performed by the person holding that post.

      As regards the duties of Beppe Marotta, with it understood that neither in this case will there be an outside appointment, it has been decided that his responsibilities and tasks will in part be shared among individuals already serving in leading sports management roles. Other competencies will be taken on by the Board of Directors, which is to delegate these to one of its members.

      An important lesson we have learned from Jack Welch is to “change before you have to”. Therefore, we’ve selected a new generation of leaders in whom to entrust responsibility for Juventus over the coming years.

      Moving onto the area of sport, to provide an idea of the direction we’re looking to take I’d like to refer to the introduction of an article that I read after the match in Manchester last night: “The European elite is now a very exclusive circle and Juve are an undoubted and, above all, stable part of it.”

      This must be our aim on the field, to maintain what we’ve worked hard to achieve over these years. Clearly, putting aside the results of the first-team squad, hard work will be required for the new team founded this year, the Under-23 side. I have often spoken with those in charge, in particular with Federico Cherubini, about the Under-23 team’s purpose. Having fought in recent years for B teams to be introduced, this has finally been made possible, but was only formally confirmed at the end of July, so there were lingering doubts until the last few days.

      Young players in Italy have traditionally progressed by going on loan after the youth set-up, with limited playing time, before showing their potential to nail down a regular spot in Serie A sides.

      What does it mean to play for the Under 23 team of a club like Juve? That has perhaps been the most difficult aspect – giving an identity to a team that didn’t previously exist.

      On the one hand having players ready to step up to the first team means being able to trim down the size of the squad by two or three players, and reap the consequential economic benefits while knowing that you have players available that you can trust. On the other hand, the aim is to give these young players the opportunity to transition into being professionals in the world of football. We now have the crown jewel of our youth set-up and it must be made clear, from the Under-8 team to the senior team, that the aim must be to win.

      The role of the Services Area remains that of providing the Sport and Revenue Areas with the necessary tools from an organisational, technological, financial and infrastructure point of view so that they can achieve the club's targets in the medium-to-long term. It must offer tangible support to the two areas which drive the club forward and so, besides the normal management of administrative, club and legal matters, in the coming years the Services Area will also implement an IT governance strategy to aid the growth of revenue and the needs of the Sport Area. It will assess and constantly monitor individual activities within the club, be they business lines or projects, in order to channel company resources into strategic activities or activities with the highest margins, optimising the management of funding sources with the aim of containing finance costs and reducing the risk of financial strain, while improving all company procedures so as to increase structural efficiency and contain operating costs.

      The objective for the Revenue Area is to consolidate Juventus' position as one of world's leading football clubs not just in terms of results on the pitch but also as an economic powerhouse. That means continuing to grow in the key markets, China, South-East Asia and the United States, by harnessing the wave of positive interest that has been created around us – thanks above all to the Sport Area.

      The Revenue Area certainly has a difficult task if it is go beyond the limits of the current distribution of Serie A broadcast rights. This requires further developing our digital channels to ensure we are present in those markets, as our main international rivals are, while offering our full support to the Lega Serie A to grow the Italian football system as a whole outside of Europe. The Revenue Area also needs to make the most of our strategic brand partnerships, starting with those we display on our shirt. Finally, it must play an active role in the entertainment industry by offering what we do best. Our essence is the joy and emotion of our Academies, our events and our places, which are multiplying around the world.

      We have therefore decided, in order to tackle the challenges that await us in the coming years, to renew the club's leadership and hand greater responsibilities to individuals already at the club: Fabio Paratici for the Sport Area, Marco Re for the Services Area and Giorgio Ricci for the Revenue Area.

      This will of course mean a general reorganisation of the different areas. To name just a few of the professionals who will find themselves with opportunities to grow and contribute to helping Juventus achieve its targets, alongside Fabio will be people like Federico Cherubini, alongside Marco will be people like Fabio Tucci, and alongside Giorgio will be people like Tomas Arico. I have mentioned these three not for any particular merit but because they represent the second lines. Juventus is not one, two or three people; Juventus is a group of men and women who work every day so that the team can achieve their objective, which is success on the pitch. I wish them all the best of luck.

      Our club changes for various reasons, including reasons outside of the club, both in Italy and internationally. The Lega Serie A recently adopted a new statute, which we had been awaiting for several years, and named a new president, Gaetano Micciche. The FIGC held its electoral assembly following a period of several months with an external commissioner and elected a new president almost unanimously, with Gabriele Gravina taking 97.2% of the votes. He must now call the first board meeting next week to assign the various positions of responsibility. I will take part and try to offer my contribution, although I won't be able to vote, as a member of the UEFA Executive Committee.

      We have two new leaders at the Lega Serie A and the FIGC who are faced by a great challenge: to restore harmony to the Italian game. This can only happen with a shared strategic plan and if all parties show a sense of responsibility. These are short mandates which will end at the end of the four-year Olympic term cycle, with the next Lega and FIGC elections will taking place around January-February 2021 – so we hope that the two presidents of the Lega Serie A and the FIGC can succeed in agreeing on a strategic plan for Italian football, in which each component is assigned its own mission.

      When I say mission, I am talking first and foremost about the leagues: Serie A, Serie B, Serie C and the amateur leagues.

      Serie A is of course the elite league, the commercial and economic engine driving the Italian game. As it grows, so too will the resources available for solidarity with the lower leagues, which can help them to achieve their own objectives.

      Serie B and Serie C offer opportunities to develop youth players, including via as many B teams as possible. B teams should be allowed to move up and down the divisions, which is not currently possible as they must stay in Serie C. In other countries, B teams belonging to Europe's biggest clubs who get promoted to the second tier often risk getting relegated, sometimes immediately, back to the third tier. B teams struggle to compete in the second tier but it offers them a real objective.

      The aim of amateur teams should be to spread enthusiasm for the sport at amateur level. Those who play at amateur level do so mainly for enjoyment and to promote the game of football.

      All this of course needs to be done in unison with the FIGC, whose objective is to promote and regulate the game of football and everything associated with it by accommodating the professional and the amateur games within the same central structure. This means getting as many kids playing football as possible so that the whole system can grow.

      The Football Association's competitors, if we can call them that, are the Volleyball Association, the Basketball Association, the Rugby Association and so on. The people in charge of football in Italy need to attract as many children as possible, get as many of them playing as possible, because the more young players there are, the easier it is to develop talent.

      What we have seen in recent months, although perhaps it's true to say recent years, are a series of appeals, counter-appeals and paradoxical situations, including leagues starting with bankrupt clubs. Serie B began with 19 clubs and now the TAR [Regional Administrative Court] has accepted the appeal made by three clubs, which means the relevant parties must now assess how to reinsert teams that have already played in one or another league. We have seen exceptions made and we have seen the women's game torn between the amateur and the professional leagues. Sport generally, but especially football, must unite. Football is not politics.

      We all have the same objective, which is to help the system grow, to see an exciting league, to see Italian clubs winning in Europe, both in the Champions League and the Europa League. We all dream of seeing Italy win the World Cup again. The objective must be the same for everyone who works within the football industry in Italy. We need unity, which can be achieved through a shared strategic vision. That doesn't mean we can't tease each other. I may support one team and my friends support another. The result of a match means we go to the bar happy or sad and there may be a bit of ribbing as a result, but that's where it should end. Teasing is one thing, hatred is another. Hatred towards people or things is spreading in football, and it's a reflection of society in general. This is obviously harmful, but it's sadly a sign of the times. As I said, political ideology is one thing; supporting a football team is another. The two things must remain separate.

      Finally, speaking of change, I cannot not mention the international panorama and the activities of the European Club Association, UEFA and FIFA. At the ECA Assembly in Paris, we finalised the last few details relating to European competitions for the period 2021-24. The Champions League will remain the same for that period, with the current system that sees four clubs from the top four associations qualify automatically for the group stage and the other 16 places assigned according to a very precise ranking system. We needed to finalise matters for the Europa League, and the last year has seen some very animated debates about the best way to achieve the objectives we set ourselves.

      The main objective was to open the competition up to as many teams as possible. There was talk of a 64-team Europa League or creating a third competition. The qualifying system for the Europa League was finalised and it was decided to go down the route of creating a third competition with a similar qualifying system. Now the commercial aspects will be developed and then we can go onto the market in a year's time. It required an enormous effort by the European Club Association and its board members because the Scots, the Finns and the Portuguese are in a different position to the English, the Germans and the Spanish, and these differences must be taken into consideration.

      Clearly, an analogy can be made with Serie A, Serie B and Serie C: everyone has their own position within the European system, just as everyone has their own dimension within the individual systems. What European clubs have in common is they are all elite clubs in their own countries, but then there are huge differences between the various countries at European level.

      I must thank my colleagues for the solution we came up with and I can imagine the ECA model being used for the professional game in Italy. Executive platforms were created for discussions, where, based in  geographical areas, clubs meet to talk about the most important and pressing matters. There are working groups that bring contributions from Albania, Finland, France and Spain on matters which are of interest to everyone, such as financial matters and the management of the licensing system, Financial Fair Play, commercial distribution mechanisms and solidarity distribution mechanisms.

      In Italy this happens via state laws while in Europe it is decided by voluntary mechanisms chosen by the interested parties themselves. The analogies between Europe and Italy are very clear: in Italy we are talking about reforms for the leagues, the licensing systems, Financial Fair Play and infrastructure, and there are rules both in Europe and in Italy. In Europe, anyone taking part in international competition must adhere to these rules, while in Italy, all too often, exceptions are made.

      If a club gets promoted it not only enjoys the benefits of playing in a better league than before but it also has obligations to meet. If one of the obligations is possessing infrastructure of a certain type, you have to comply with it, otherwise it harms the whole football system.

      Hosting major events like the European Championships or the World Cup can aid that process, especially if agreements are made with the government in power at the time. We have failed a couple of times in the past and it is only right and natural that we should be looking to host the 2028 European Championships, but the host nation for Euro 2028 will be decided in 2022. Three weeks ago Euro 2024 was assigned to Germany – Turkey was the other candidate – and the next hosts will be assigned in four years' time. So talk of Italy hosting the European Championships is certainly premature in terms of UEFA procedures but certainly right in terms of planning FIGC activities.

      This brings us to the path that leads to 2024. Football is basically regulated by the international calendar, which has been decided until 2024. The international calendar is released by FIFA in agreement with the various confederations – Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Africa. That's the basic structure. Currently there is huge disorder within this structure: we have continental tournaments which affect clubs in odd years, even years, summer, winter. The clubs would like to coordinate these confederation tournaments, ideally in the summer months of even years, so that there is a clear plan. This would allow players to enjoy a month's holiday in odd years. Footballers are our heroes and physically speaking they are superior to the norm but they still need time to rest and relax, physically and mentally. Footballers who take part in these tournaments experience a high level of mental stress so giving them the chance to have a month's holiday – the same for everyone – once every two years, and having the same organisation for everyone, would be very useful.

      It’s a similar story with the periods players go off on international duty. We have international breaks in September, October, November, March and June, and then we have the various tournaments at confederation level. Clearly reducing the number of international fixtures is not a priority, in terms of clubs’ general interest. We cannot only think about ourselves. For many clubs in the second tier, having players that represent their national team is something that can help them improve, so a good number of international matches fosters the development of players in those teams. It would be useful, however, to achieve a level of rationalisation. Currently there are 18 fixtures in each two-year cycle – ten when there is no tournament and eight when there is one. An effort to redistribute the matches in order to reduce the number of international breaks would be of benefit to national teams, which would have their players available for a longer time. It would also be advantageous for clubs, who would have to deal with fewer breaks, and for the players, who would have a more ordered schedule. Getting the balance right for international matches, with as broad an international platform as possible, while respecting domestic competitions, is something that European clubs want. 

      In some countries, since not everyone is lucky or privileged enough to play in the leading football markets such as Italy, France and England, consideration has been given to the idea of setting up regional leagues. By this we do not mean a European Super League. This is about helping smaller countries get to critical mass and generate interest as part of a cross-border league. This can certainly provide food for thought. 

      The introduction of proper rest periods during the season would be beneficial as it could help improve fitness and potentially mean fewer matches. Too many matches are in nobody’s interest and most importantly of all the players cannot deal with them. On this issue, a vision is shared by the UEFA President, the ECA Executive Committee and UEFA Executive Committee, as well as the ECA Administration and UEFA Administration, and we are working together harmoniously, in the interests of Italy too. If we work in harmony and mutual respect, we can find solutions that are in the interests of all stakeholders.

      The situation with FIFA at the moment is different. FIFA is heading along its own path, similar to the one it has walked in the past, without lending its ear to the game’s stakeholders. Currently, as we hold our meeting, the FIFA Council is taking place today and tomorrow in Kigali, Rwanda. On the agenda is the creation of two new competitions, the Global Nations League and a restructuring of the existing World Club Cup, though no format, qualification system or dates have been specified. Putting aside the fact that reviewing the latter competition could be useful, I firmly believe, both in my capacity as president of one of Europe’s leading clubs, and as president of the European Club Association, that if we want to build the foundations of the world game on the basis of FIFA’s international calendar, then we cannot add more competitions. So at the present time, and it pains me to say it, relations with FIFA are strained.

      The next few years will be interesting and full of passion. The sacrifices that have been made and the great work that has been done between 2010 and 2018 must remain the common denominator in the years that follow. It will be hard work and sacrifice that will enable us to achieve the objectives we are setting ourselves.

      Thank you.

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