Why did AC Milan fall apart?

AC Milan has been the victim of the very same revolution that its owner, Mr Berlusconi, ignited 30 years ago: the attitude of pouring an irrationally enormous amount of money on the football teams in order to obtain enormous visibility at home and abroad (and hopefully victories too).

Unfortunately for Mr Berlusconi, his fortunes have been dwindling due to his (and his companies) problems with Justice in Italy and abroad and the persistent economy crash of his home country, which he formidably contributed to generate by being his PM for approximately the last 15 years.

Time has passed: now the Sheiks from the middle east and the Russian Oligarchs set the price for the most talented players and this price, most of the times, cannot be even remotely afforded by Berlusconi anymore.

This lack of resources would require a new approach to the squad building: growing up young new talents in-house, hiring promising but undervalued players, supporting a Manager during good and bad times, etc. Unfortunately for AcMilan, no new approach is to be found at: quite the opposite.

Mr. Berlusconi’s inability to cope with the changing times in a new way is now legendary: he is a stubborn victim of the nostalgia of the good old times (for this reasons he hired – and subsequently sacked – both Seedorf and Inzaghi). Mihailovic has not even been able to complete his first season and has been already replaced by Brocchi (with zero coach experience in Serie A) with only 6 games of the season 2015-2016 season left.

As we know, Mr Berlusconi is also tied to Mr Galliani – the co-Ceo of the team – who cannot be fired without paying him a golden parachute of more than 100m Euro (apparently Berlusconi offered him 100m Euro but he refused and was ready to sue his employer and his daughter for libel): another payment that the Milanese tycoon at present cannot afford.

The problems have been recently exacerbated when Mr Berlusconi had the smart idea to appoint his youngest daughter Barbara (!) as co-Ceo (she wanted to be a Ceo of something, like her two older siblings, apparently!).

She proved to be an arrogant & dilettante woman with no previous working experience whatsoever (she had the bright idea to start dating Alexandre Pato as soon as she took office and sacked Ac Milan’s former head of marketing so she could hire Mr Geronimo La Russa, another embarrassing individual who happen to be one of her best friends).

The idea to appoint her as co-Ceo of a team with a 200m Euro turnover has been a complete disaster: she dated a player, wanted to kick out Galliani the day she stepped in, she wanted to be the boss of Marketing with no experience, and then… her huge failure to execute the plans to build the new stadium is still regarded as a hugely expensive and embarrassing mistake by the Berlusconi family.

A faux pas like this would have been simply impossible 10 years ago: not only they will not build the long awaited new Stadium, but they are currently being sued by the owner of the Stadium’s construction site because AcMilan rescinded the contract right after having won it – ridiculous.

How does it feel to narrowly miss a flight which subsequently crashes and leaves no survivors?

Augusto Bianchi, one of my former bosses, was a very wealthy Milanese business lawyer and in the 80s he missed a flight that ended up crashing.

The day he missed the flight was a Thursday and he was so grateful with the destiny for the incredible struck of good luck that he decided to give a party at his legendary Corso Venezia mansion in Milan for every Thursday of the rest of his life.

He kept his promise and his parties, called “Il Giovedí” (Thursday in Italian) became a sort of small cultural phenomenon in Milan (I just found that they are also mentioned on his Wikipedia page: Augusto Bianchi Rizzi – Wikipedia) and they won a Milanese Municipal Award in 2012.

He even founded a “Il Giovedí” Book Prize to encourage and promote the books of young Italian writers.

Sadly, he prematurely died of cancer on October 2014.

Why are there so many Italian sports car manufacturers?

Gianni Agnelli was once asked the same question by (a young) Jeremy Clarkson (check the quick vid below).

L’Avvocato replied that Italians in 20th century developed a multitude of small mechanical repairs shops to assist consumers fixing their cars (the car market was booming in Italy and this created a wealth of opportunities for ingenious people to put themselves to work).

These small repair shops usually employed all kind of people, especially poor guys with no money but with a lot of passion for fast cars, huge imagination and gusto.

After they gained some experience, these guys used their creative approach not just to repair someone’s else cars but to manufacture their own.

At the times there were no over-zealous regulations so this could be done even by a small family shop.

Many of them did not last more than a few years, but occasionally a few thrived and developed into great brands that have made the history of cars.

Why is there a giant middle finger outside of Milan’s stock exchange?

It is a sculpture from Maurizio Cattelan recently placed in a quiet square in front of the Italian Stock Market.

It is considered a giant “F**K YOU” to the Stock Market from the “People”, whose “fingers” have been butchered by the scammers-turned-entrepreneurs who have dominated the Italian Stock market for generations.

It is a fierce critique of the “Italian” way to interpret the capitalism whereby the profits are quickly secured by the “entrepreneurs”, the losses are subsequently “socialised” among thousands of small investors and the regulators and politicians consistently turn the blind eye so to keep the game going.

It is a very good reminder, especially for all the people working at the Stock Market (so called “entrepreneurs”, investment bankers, lawyers, accountant, auditors) of the disasters that they have contributed to commit against the small investors.

Almost none of them will face the consequences of their crimes or negligence since in Italy the legislation is on purpose extremely bland against these types of crimes but they have a perpetual reminder made of marble placed there to remind them of what the Italian people think of them.

The location of this iconic sculpture is fantastic as it is placed exactly in front of the Italian Stock Exchange which has seen a multitude of Stock frauds carried out in the last 20 years without the regulators being even remotely able neither to tackle the core issues of a too-easy-to-rig stock market, nor to appropriately punish the multitude of “white-collar” professionals who actively contributed in executing them.

Why does the Serie A have such low attendance numbers, especially for big teams like Milan, Roma, Inter (not including derbies)?

For a series of reasons:

A. Poor infrastructure quality: the vast majority of the stadiums in Italy are owned by the municipalities. Italian municipalities are highly corrupted entities / do not directly benefit from increased attendances to the stadium (i.e. they get a fixed licensing fee from the Teams, regardless of attendances): for these reasons the stadiums have not been either maintained or renovated in decades and, as we all know, people in 2015 do not accept to go to the same stadium that was considered “state of the art” in 1989 and has been left untouched and decaying since then. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Municipalities gain money by allowing the teams to play onlyin the Municipality’s stadiums (through a sort of licensing fee which is negotiated on a yearly basis): for this reason, not only they leave their own stadiums to decay, but they also have no interest to allow the Teams to build their own stadiums as the Municipalities would lose an important revenue stream for their finances (e.g. just look at the Naples Municipality and its now-in-ruins San Paolo Stadium: the Mayor of Naples refuses to either renovate it (blaming the lack of budget) or to authorise the Team to build its own infrastructure, otherwise they will lose the licensing fee: this is a disaster for such an ambitious and successful team). Please note that most of the stadiums in Italy have been built/re-built in the late 80s for the Italy 1990 World Championship. These stadiums are architecturally terrible, built at the end of the disastrously corrupted 80s, and they try to do too many things at once without doing anything right. They are also enormous (many of them can seat more than 80k supporters), the supporters are very far from the pitch so the players look very tiny, there are not even comfortable seats. On the opposite, the 40k seats Juventus Stadium in Turin has been completed 3 years ago, it is considered “state of the art” by 2015 standards and is consistently sold-out (even notwithstanding its higher-than-average prices).

B. Bad connections from city centers: the public transports in Italy are pathetic: in order to reach most of the stadiums in Italy you need to take a car or a scooter. This makes things bad on the way tothe stadium but things are utterly deadly on your way backhome at the end of the match. The roads around the stadiums connecting it to the city centers are simply unsuitable for thousands and thousands of cars flooding back to the city so you can easily remain stuck at the stadium for more than 1 or 2 hours after the game has ended. This is unacceptable for modern standards but the Municipalities have simply no interest in fixing this.

C. Violence by Organised Supporter Groups: in Italy (from North to South, East to West) it is still completely normal for a (small but influential) fringe of supporters to go the stadium not to watch a football game but to have an excuse to make riots, destroy everything and beat (sometimes even kill!) the opponents’ supporters. Roma, Genoa, Verona & Lazio supporters are among the most violent organised groups in Italy, and they can take whole neighbourhoods hostage of their riots for a full day: this obviously drives rational and normal supporters (often with kids) out of the habit to go to the stadium.

D. Lower quality of games: many of Serie A’s matches are consistently boring as the star players are going to play in richer championships (but things are improving, especially since 2015).

E. Overwhelming football offer on TV: compared to all the difficulties raised against the legitimate supporters to go to the Stadium, the offer of Football on TV is outstanding. There is simply not incentive to go to an empty stadium, if I can watch the same game from the comfort of my sofa at home.