James Pallotta AS Roma president
James Pallotta. (Photo: Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto)

Roma president James Pallotta has threatened to sell the club if they don’t receive the city authorities’ approval for their new stadium at Tor di Valle.

Pallotta was recently in the headlines for his incredulous comments about Milan’s spending in the transfer market, though he later apologised for his comments as he said they were based upon erroneous figures.

In a lengthy interview with the Boston Globe this weekend, Pallotta discussed the club’s current situation as well as reiterating his stance regarding the new stadium.

We don’t want to sell it. We think there’s a huge opportunity for us to build a championship-calibre team with a stadium and an entertainment complex,” he said. “But if [the city authorities] can’t get the approval stuff in order then someone else is going to have to go through with it.”

That said, Pallotta remains fully committed to growing Roma’s global presence, and – although the club are still without a main shirt sponsor – he is aware of the importance that a vibrant and active social media presence can have on increasing the value of potential partnership deals.

“If you now have 15 million followers on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, your sponsorship dollars should be higher. So instead of getting $5 million, you’re now getting $10 million from a particular sponsor. It’s all about viewership from social and regular TV. Then you have Champions League stuff, which could change, too, if there’s ever a Super League. Then it’s going to dramatically bring revenues up again.

“Then when you’re watching those games, now you have to remember it’s the middle of the night in Asia, India, and other places. They’re going to have to figure out how to change that. Once you get more eyeballs on that again, the advertising numbers go up. Sponsorship numbers go up. Viewership numbers go up.”

One of the key markets that Roma are looking to expand into is America. The club recently completed another pre-season tour in the USA, playing friendlies with PSG, Tottenham and Juventus, and Pallotta explains that European sides are looking to exploit a growing interest in the game across the Atlantic.

“There’s a huge fanbase here, which is growing, which is more: ‘I want to watch the best guys in the world play.’ And that’s the European football piece of it. That’s where the much, much bigger opportunity is for European football clubs, top-10 clubs, to get from the US.

“You’re seeing crazy good football. Factually, it’s just better players. I’m not denigrating MLS. I think they’ve done a really good job of marketing and getting their product out. In fact, a great job. I think European football leagues could learn from MLS and what they did in marketing the product.

Serie A’s growth on social media in 2016/17 was not as impressive as some of Europe’s other leagues, and Pallotta clearly believes that there is work to be done on that front. However, his main concern is to continue building Roma’s own brand and make the most of the opportunities – both sporting and otherwise – that the Eternal City provides.

“European teams have lived off the tribal, culture, and fanaticism a different way. Other than the Premier League, the leagues themselves have not done anywhere as good a job in branding and marketing themselves as MLS has.

“The 24/7 around it is how you build out your global brand. That was the rationale in the first place for Rome more than any other city. It’s Rome.

“I can’t walk in Rome more than two minutes without being stopped. So if I’m walking, it’s photographers, journalists, or Roma fans wanting to talk, sign something, take a picture. That’s in London, Milan, Miami – they’re there. They just come up to you.

“It’s constant in a bunch of these places. In Rome, it’s just crazy. The fanbase in European football, it’s usually the only major sport in the city. It goes back much further than teams here. It really is tribal and cultural, way more than it is in US sports. So the fanaticism is on steroids.”