Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni

For­mer Mi­lan owner back in busi­ness at Monza

World Soccer - - Contents - Paddy Agnew

“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.

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