Former Milan owner back in business at Monza
“President Berlusconi has declined a number of potential club purchases that have been offered to him” Adriano Galliani
E ighteen months after selling his stake in Milan, former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his trusted aide Adriano Galliani are set to return to Italian football, having agreed to buy a shareholding in Serie C side Monza.
“Talking together [with Berlusconi] about this and that, not long after we had sold Milan and we were missing football, we came up with the idea of buying another club,” Galliani told the daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
“In these last months, President Berlusconi has declined a number of potential club purchases that have been offered to him, just as I have declined a number of club appointments.”
Galliani pointed out that Monza was an obvious choice as Berlusconi lives just three kilometres up the road from their Stadio Brianteo and there has always been a special link with Milan, with Monza serving as a satellite club for the Serie A team in the 1990s. Galliani, who was Monza’s vice-president and sport director from 1975 to 1985, added: “I was born and grew up in Monza and I started my professional career there.”
But is this a footballing move, or are there political strings attached?
Ever since formally entering politics in 1994 with a famous television address in which he spoke of taking “to the pitch” of political life, Berlusconi has interwoven the image of the successful football entrepreneur with that of the pragmatic politician who can get things done.
Still an important figure on the national scene, he may well feel that his input into Monza, a club in the heartland of the country’s centre-right support, will earn credibility and votes for both his own Forza Italia party and for that of his major ally, the League, which is currently power-sharing in government with the Five Star Movement.
Notwithstanding 2013’s five-year ban on him holding public office due to a tax-evasion conviction, Berlusconi has remained a key political player, even if Forza Italia saw its vote drop from a one-time high of 29.4 per cent in 2001 to 14.4 per cent in March’s general election – elections in which, incidentally, Galliani was elected to a Senate seat for Forza Italia.
If Berlusconi and Galliani can work the old Milan magic and take Monza from Serie C to the top flight for the first time in their history, their success may be as beneficial for Forza Italia and League supporters as it would be for local football fans.
Interestingly, the man that Berlusconi will be buying the club from is Nicola Colombo, who is son of Felice Colombo – who was president of Milan, from 1977 to 1980, when they were relegated to Serie B over the so-called “TotoNero” betting scandal.