Inter CEO Alessandro Antonello has said that President Steven Zhang has got a long-term commitment to the ownership of the club, according to a report in the Italian print media today.

Speaking during an interview with La Repubblica, Alessandro Antonello hit back at claims that Inter and AC Milan’s owners will just sell the clubs for a high price once they have secured a new stadium.

“The presence of president Steven Zhang in the office next door also physically represents the long-term commitment of ownership to the club.”

Much of the interview was spent discussing the new stadium that AC Milan and Inter are working hard to build as soon as possible.

When asked about the roadmap that the clubs have agreed with the municipality, Alessandro Antonello said that they are still concerned about the delays that could impact the project.

“We fear a lengthening of the timescale or an overturning of the project which has already been modified to meet the requests of the Municipality. If one of these conditions were to occur, it could push us elsewhere.

“Inter and Milan, two prestigious clubs that have also given the city a lot of prestige, have presented a project to the Municipality to be able to build a new stadium, an investment that looks to the interests of those who do it and also to those of the city to renovate an important district. And the areas, after 90 years, will return to the Municipality.”

When asked about whether moving the stadium to a region such as Sesto San Giovanni will cheapen the connection that fans have to the club, Alessandro Antonello said that if the teams win trophies, the fans will get attached to that stadium.

“If the clubs win they can give prestige to a facility elsewhere. And then the fans quickly become attached to a stadium that can create emotions, but also offer a lot of services.

“Those who today say that nothing needs to be changed should try to watch the game from the third ring of the Meazza. Maybe they would change their mind.”

Many people at the top of football clubs have been using the word ‘sustainability’ since the pandemic put pain to many people’s finances.

Alessandro Antonello is no different and feels that the new stadium would make Inter a more sustainable business.

“Now we need to return to a balance between expenses and receipts. We need sustainable management of football. The new stadium would ensure greater revenues for the teams and better services to the public, the neighbourhood and the city.

“For us, building a facility at San Siro is certainly the first choice, but if the public debate is taking place and it takes too long, or if the already modified project is changed, then we will create a plan B. We want a new stadium and having it is more important than where to have it.”

Moving onto Inter’s finances, the loss made by the club last season was a record breaking €245.6 million. That is expected to be more than halved this season and Alessandro Antonello explained why last season was so expensive.

“Last year was a result penalized by extraordinary factors: not only the pandemic, but also the interruption of contractual relations with the coach Conte, Nainggolan, and João Mario. This year the loss will be more than halved, let’s say around €100 million. Of course the costs, especially those for the salaries of the squad, are not very compressible.”

When asked if fans should expect more years of cost-cutting and austerity at Inter, the CEO suggested that it could still be necessary.

“At this moment it is important to guarantee an economic and financial sustainability to the club and if this means a reduction in costs we will continue in this direction.

“Economic and financial discipline must always be balanced by competitiveness on the field.”

Inter are one of the multiple top Italian clubs that are in discussions with UEFA right now regarding Financial Fair Play.

“Milan, Roma and Juve are also talking to UEFA on this point and in general the effects of the pandemic involve more than thirty clubs throughout Europe.

“For this reason, UEFA, in a collaborative and not punitive spirit, is developing the terms of a settlement agreement in which it will accompany the teams to the new criteria of financial sustainability.”

Many are fearful about Italian football as a whole and the quality of Serie A right now and Alessandro Antonello thinks the TV rights deals must be addressed straight away to change this.

“Serie A has tv rights deals that are at an all-time low. We are under €200 million, against the billion almost reached by the Premier League or La Liga.

“We must move immediately, given that the next round of rights will be awarded in two years. Then, of course, there are also the infrastructures that increase the attractiveness of the championship.”