Umberto Gandini is a director of Serie A side AC Milan, and a vice-chairman of the European Club Association. He kindly agreed to an exclusive interview with Transfer News Central, and talked about his club’s start to the 2015-16 campaign and the influence of the Premier League on Italy and wider European football.
Milan are currently sitting seventh in Serie A, on 25 points.
What do you think about Milan’s season so far?
We are almost at the end of the first half of the season and we are not in the position we were all aiming for, and this is a fact. We made important investments over the summer, a new coaching staff and we were all hoping to be in a much better position. At times the team has played well, and obtained some good results. Other occasions the team was underperforming, wasting good opportunities to regain the status of serious contender. Nobody remembers, but we are missing our best player from last season, Jeremy Menez, and Mario Balotelli has been rarely available due to injuries. We are still confident we are ready to turn the corner.
How do you feel about the big amounts being spent in the Premier League?
The PL is flying high and the huge increase in revenues that will happen this summer will make it more and more dominant in the market. Also, middle table teams will be able to spend big on players, to the detriment of many other clubs in Europe. It will be more and more complicated for the big ones to have a guarantee of success domestically in UK , but it would also mean that those who will qualify for Champions League will have more resources to invest. I think this will be a problem for the European competitions in general, but I do not see how to control this .
Do you think it’s harder to attract players to the Serie A because of this?
Well , Serie A used to be a final destination for important players , and now it is seen as a transit area to aim to the best league, England, and the two top clubs of Spain, Germany and one in France. Serie A and its clubs must understand this and properly act to limit such negative trend, but being mainly a financial aspect, I do not see in the short term a solution.
Has the stability of the club suffered with the large turnover in managers in recent years?
I think it is an inevitable consequence, unfortunately. We did not used to change coaches every six months, and lately this has become a worrying trend . You cannot say which comes first, turnover of coaches or lack of stability, so it is difficult to match expectations, here always very high, with reality.
What do you think about the fans discontent in recent seasons and what effort is the board doing to help appease fans on and off the pitch?
The owner and the board are doing a lot to change the current situation even if it seems that we are not yet able to find a solution. Fans discontent is understandable and logical . Definitely more wisdom , balance and loyalty from the close fans would help the players and the club.
Do you think that Milan will return to be one of the best teams in Europe?
I hope so, but I do not have the crystal ball. I can only say that this is the clear desire of Mr. Berlusconi, even if we must admit that the competition has dramatically changed internationally.
What do you think about the teams in Serie A? Do you think it’s a tougher league than the Premier League?
I think the most tactical game is played in Serie A, so that everybody could beat anybody here more frequently than in the PL . However, with a different style of play, in the PL it is becoming increasingly difficult for the big clubs to dominate. Serie A is more complex , but PL is more entertaining.
Do you think it was a bad decision to sell Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva?
It was necessary at that time. Everybody knows how strong they were for the club and that we lost a lot, but as I said it was almost inevitable for the situation of the club then.
Do you think that Mr. Bee will become a shareholder in AC Milan?
This is a question for the subjects of the negotiations, and not for the object of the potential transaction
What are the plans (if there are any) for a new stadium; Juventus have their own stadium and are much more financially stable because of it, is that a model Milan is aiming for ?
Milan plays in one of the best stadia in Europe, the San Siro, shared with Inter. After having evaluated various options, our owner has decided to analyse properly the possible redevelopment of the San Siro with Inter Milan. It is not a final decision, but for the time being this is it.
Will Milan finish in the top 3 this season?
We are losing great opportunities, but we can still get back in the race, but it won’t be easy.