The full transcript of Andrea Agnelli's speech at the Juventus Football Club S.p.A. shareholders' meeting on Friday 25 October 2013
Good morning shareholders,
Today marks the end of the 2012/13 season, a year which saw your club continue the progress made over the last three seasons both on and off the field. The balance sheet put forward to this board for approval today sees a record turnover and reunites Juventus with its past. We were already ahead of schedule on the pitch, bringing home the 2011/12 Scudetto, but the budget sheet you have in front of you is particularly significant because it marks a substantial move towards balancing the books, whilst maintaining results on the field with our second consecutive Scudetto and Super Cup.
With the help of you shareholders, Exor and my cousin John first and foremost, this management has been able to win four trophies in just three years, rebuilding the club's heritage which was previously under serious threat, and laying the foundations for the future development of Juventus.
But that's not enough.
Victories and records end up in annals and on lists. Our task is to build the future. Today's turnover puts Juventus in the world's top ten. The previous record put the club among the top three in the world. That's a fact. We've lost a lot of ground over the last 10 years.
The task of anyone who has a role of responsibility in the sporting system, be they a club director or a member of an institution, is to look reality in the eye to take on new challenges. Sport, and football in particular, offers continual opportunities for glory or pain. Media coverage and the supporters' passion greatly accentuate this topsy-turvy world, but those who have the honour of governing and making decisions, in institutions like clubs, must strike a balance. A year on from our last meeting, the situation in Italian football is unchanged: I wrote this in a recent letter to you and I reaffirm it today. The loss of the system's competitiveness is so patently obvious that only the reckless could ignore it. Juventus will only be able to maintain its competitiveness on the pitch internationally and remain balanced financially if the system's income allows the club to fully achieve its potential. This is not an excuse. It's a concerned appeal to react and not to consider the decline as inevitable. This might sound like rhetoric but the future really is in our hands.
It's not easy in a context like Italy, which over a long period has established a deep-rooted culture of power and a precarious culture in terms of government. In fact, it's very difficult.
However, we must ask how politics can look after the fate of the motor of Italian football, namely Serie A, when Italian football shows on a daily basis that it knows neither how to progress nor find the ability to govern its only sector in an adequate fashion? Serie A, and Italian football as a whole, must go back to being a credible and reliable counterpart for everyone, from the policy makers to the fans, from the world of businesses to the now crucial world of television broadcasters.
Let's be careful here: Juventus has no intention of questioning long-consolidated principles such as collective negotiations for television rights that all developed countries have adopted or, in the case of Spain, will soon adopt. This is not the point.
I think a more efficient system which pays greater attention to the product of football, which we all care about, would find a greater response both on the Italian market and even more so abroad, where Serie A is worth just a fraction of the Premier League. Where the Bundesliga, having overtaken us in the standings on the field, is gradually catching up with us in terms of treating football as a product. The gap between big and small clubs in England and Germany has been gradually reduced but this process has not occurred to the detriment of Manchester United or Bayern Munich. The whole industry was able to increase its value with constant work, which in the former began twenty years ago, and the latter a decade ago. At that time Italian football looked at the game abroad with a sense of superiority and an arrogance which was perhaps out of place even back then. “We're the best in the world”, people said at the time. Now in this specific area our aim should be twofold: on the one hand we need to be stronger in pursuing a growing value of shared TV rights (which today account for approximately 60% of Serie A's turnover), while on the other, reduce the relative weighting of other commercial income (sponsorships, merchandising, gate receipts), increasing them more than just proportionally. We can and must do this. The deal with our new technical sponsor, announced yesterday, which will go into force from 1 July 2015, shows there is still significant room for growth and it puts Juventus back among the best in Europe in this sector too.
Lega Serie A needs to have the courage to take its own fate into its hands, must find a new way of having dialogue with sporting institutions and policy makers, must tackle problems with greater calm and a willingness to create a consensus in and around itself. Without this, we will continue to have half-empty stadiums in disrepair, components of the same federation pursuing specific goals, not systemic ones, inadequate protection of our brands against abuses and counterfeiting, and bizarre laws which are created to limit violence, but only succeed in restricting access for fans and football lovers. Essentially, we need to drastically invert this trend which is seeing the public becoming gradually and definitively distanced from what is still the nation's main shared passion.
Juventus, the whole of Juventus, including its people, are building the future, but have to live every day with discomfort which is enhanced by immobility, inaction and often superficiality. This is a burden which weighs down on the future, but that will not stop us. I'll say it again: the flaws of the Italian football system, whose stigmatisation was necessary here, can and must not be an excuse for Juventus, which has not given up, but rather continued to develop its own propensity for leadership.
Having undertaken a difficult phase of club restructuring, beginning with the development of an industrial plan - as of today into its third season - your club has the means and the ability to increase the brand's internationalisation after a tricky period, mainly caused by disappointing results on the field and judicial matters, something we've spoken about on several occasions and about which my opinion has not changed. The joining of new, internationally recognised sponsors and the continuous quantitative and qualitative development of digital media are the proof that our approach is taking us in the right direction.
Your club has solid foundations - this is also down to your support - and the walls of this stadium are testament to that. In a little over two years, this structure has become the benchmark for Italy and it has already been chosen by UEFA to host the Europa League final, an event which will see thousands of football lovers from all over the world come to visit the arena, with millions more watching at home on their television screens.
Now we must move forward and the Continassa project is without doubt another target that this management must realise. Juventus has recently acquired the area adjacent to the Stadium, to the north-west, where the club headquarters and the first-team's training centre will be relocated to. This is further proof of the club's commitment to redeveloping the area. It is also one of the biggest investments made in Turin since the Winter Olympics, providing a considerable boost for employment.
Since 2010 Juventus has continued to attract new talent both on and off the field. They have all bought into the cause, they have all put their skills at the service of a shared project, and they all want to push on from here.
That goes for Paratici, Nedved, Conte and the lads who know they have a unique opportunity to make Bianconeri history by clinching a third consecutive Scudetto crown – an extremely difficult achievement. Because winning is never easy and it requires strenuous efforts from everyone. Winning again is even more difficult.
The same goes for Marotta, Mazzia and the entire management staff, as well as the employees who run the club on a daily basis, constantly coming up with fresh ideas in a stimulating environment, albeit one under constant public scrutiny.
But we're not stopping here. We're determined to find new resources, new enthusiasm and new ideas to offer Italian football the help it urgently needs.