AS ROMA generated one of the worst losses ever recorded in European football history for the 2019-20 season, underlining the problems that could be ahead for top clubs.
Roma’s € 204 million was the second highest in Italian football after Inter Milan’s € 207 million setback in 2007. Roma’s previous worst deficit was € 115 million in 2003. Equally worrying, Roma’s debt also increased by € 115 million to € 242.5 million in 2019-20.
Roma continually lose money and had posted combined losses of € 147 million in the five years prior to 2019-20. Wages of € 184 million totalled around 78% of income in 2018-19. Full details of Roma’s finances have yet to be revealed.
Roma need their proposed new stadium to come to fruition after years of bureaucracy that have prevented them from progressing. The planned Stadio della Roma, designed by Dan Meis, has been discussed for the best part of a decade and will cost € 300 million rising to € 1 billion for the entire development. Only recently, the man responsible for managing the stadium project, Mauro Baldissoni, left the club, the latest change under the new regime of Dan and Ryan Friedkin.
Roma’s matchday income is relatively low for a club with an average crowd approaching 40,000 people. In 2018-19, for example, this totalled € 34 million, roughly half of Juventus’ matchday revenues.
In many ways, Roma remain an underachieving club. They have won just three scudettos, the last title coming in 2001 and the Coppa Italia nine times. Although they reached the European Cup final in 1984, they have won one European prize, the old Fairs Cup in 1961. Rome has, historically, been overshadowed by Milan and Turin as a football hub for decades. But the potential is there to make Roma one of Europe’s major clubs when they move from the huge Stadio Olimpico. Roma, despite losing money, have not been out of the top six in Serie A since 2012.
At the moment, though, Roma have to get through the current pandemic crisis and get their finances back on track. They have cut their wage bill, but they received some blows around sponsorship, notably when they lost Betway due to the national ban on gambling companies backing sport. To compensate, Roma have looked in new directions for sponsorship and partnerships, including the fashion industry. The club has been quite innovative across social media channels to push their brand.
Administratively, Roma slipped up over their squad listing for 2020-21 which led to them having to forfeit their opening fixture against Hellas Verona. Roma made a number of signings in the transfer window, including Chelsea’s Pedro and Arsenal’s Henrikh Mikhitaryan (both free transfers) and paid € 15 million for Chris Smalling. Their best permanent signing could yet be Jordan Veretout from Fiorentina, who cost € 14.4 million. Veretout, 27, was on loan at the club in 2019-20, scoring six goals in 33 games. He’s already netted twice this season.
The new owners of the club appear to want to shake things up. Dan Friedkin paid previous owner James Pallota US$ 591 million for Roma and there’s talk of the club hiring former Juventus coach Max Allegri, even though Paulo Fonseca is still in the dugout. This implies the Friedkin’s will want to install their own choice to fulfil their bold ambitions for their new acquisition. It may take a bit of time.