Milan mayor Beppe Sala insists that he is still fully backing a joint project between Inter and AC Milan to build a new stadium, but is reluctant to move ahead until the ownership situation of the Nerazzurri is made clearer.
The two clubs had submitted a proposal to redevelop land near the existing Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and build a new stadium, but Sala fell foul of Inter after questioning the uncertainty surrounding a potential takeover of the club.
In an interview published in today’s newspaper edition of La Gazetta dello Sport, Sala sought to clarify his comments and claimed that he backed the project, but needed to know the identities and commitment of future partners.
“I believe that the stadium must be built and have not changed my mind. I said it decisively and confirm it, the San Siro project is useful,” Sala declared.
“But the point I made was separate to this and I must clarify it once and for all. The stadium is worth less than half of the property project proposed by Inter and Milan. Is it really so illogical to want to know who we would be entrusting the regeneration of this area to over the coming years?
“I have always said that we continue to be in favour of it. My concern is not about the project and nobody is questioning it, rather we are talking about a partnership and I want to know who my partner will be today and in the future.”
Sala insisted that the debts incurred by Inter owners Suning, and any decision to sell the club by the ruling Zhang family, would not automatically change the situation regarding the stadium, whilst advising what needed to happen to get the project moving again.
“I don’t want to go into the details of Inter’s debts and I am only driven by the logic of prudence. I only ask for more information. If the Zhang family decide to sell, it does not mean anything will change, but will the possible successor still want to confirm this investment in the stadium?
“If Inter come to me and tell me that Suning’s investment will continue I will reactivate the project, but even if they tell me they have found a new party and this new party guarantee investment then this is fine by me. I need one or the other for confirmation and only ask for this.
“I want to forget this unpleasant phrase ‘Inter will survive beyond Sala’ used by the club. The mayor is, by definition, a pro tempore position, so I must therefore guarantee the future of the city. I must leave a clean slate for whoever takes my place, possibly as early as October.
“It’s true that Inter will outlive me, just as the city of Milan has 26 centuries of history. If we put it this way, I’m not just Beppe Sala. I am not a lukewarm fan, in the year of the treble  I was there in Siena, Rome and Madrid.
“The centre-right are exploiting the stadium situation, but the elections do not affect my position. As I told Inter, they are not a problem. If they come to me and explain, we will continue. I don’t want to be the mayor that blocked the stadium and fear this, but as the manager of the city’s assets I must be prudent.”
With Milan set to host the Olympic Games in 2026, Sala suggested that the opening ceremony could be the final farewell to the stadium.
“I told the President of the IOC that I kept two options open at the time of the bid for the opening ceremony. But I must say that we imagined that the ceremony could be the farewell of the San Siro, the last moment of a glorious stadium, which has entered the heart of the city. In any case, we will be ready to use whatever will be the Milan stadium.”
Beyond the stadium, Sala reflected on the success of Inter this season as they sit top of Serie A, but set it against the backdrop of empty stadia in Italy.
“It’s terrible to see the stadium empty. I still remember [Luciano] Spalletti’s match with Inter against Empoli, with Danilo D’Ambrosio saving them. I saw them in the second tier with my friends.
“As a mayor it is beautiful to see this success and as a fan I say that Antonio Conte makes me dream. I always defended him amongst friends when he was criticised, he is an extraordinary coach with excellent players. I don’t make predictions because it brings bad luck but it’s easy to imagine what we are waiting for.
“I also say that it is essential for both Inter and Milan to return to be in the Champions League. I hope for a rebirth of Milan in which football plays it’s part.”