InterSpac President Carlo Cottarelli feels that there is still a chance that the fan investment initiative can take off, but that it will need some kind of institutional support.
Speaking to Italian broadcaster Radio Nerazzurra, via FCInterNews, the economist and Inter fan explained that there is plenty of support and willingness to invest in the Nerazzurri, but that it cannot go forward without either an institutional investment or support from Suning.
Over the past couple years, Cottarelli has been trying to move forward with his InterSpac initiative, the aim of which would be to transition the ownership model of Inter to one where fans hold shares in the club.
The idea would be for the ownership model of the Nerazzurri, and then potentially also for other Italian clubs, to start to resemble those of teams in the Bundesliga.
Cottarelli has managed to get some support for his project, but he admits that as long as existing Nerazzurri owners Suning don’t show any interest, or some other institutional investor doesn’t come forward, it would be very difficult for any more progress.
He explained that “InterSpac is an initiative to promote fan shareholding.”
“To summarize what we did almost two years ago, we sent out a questionnaire, asking Inter fans how much they would be willing to invest to become shareholders owning some small part of Inter,” he went on.
“80,000 Inter fans responded, and they indicated that they would be ready to invest a total of €200 million,” he continued.
“This is quite a lot, not least when you consider that we spent a total of around €4000 to advertise the initiative.”
“Perhaps with a bigger advertising campaign we could reach an even higher amount, I know that many Inter fans haven’t even heard of our project,” Cottarelli explained.
“However, even assuming that it reaches double that amount, or €500 million, this would be nowhere near the amount needed to ‘buy’ Inter and also repay the club’s debt,” he continued.
“As a matter of fact, one of the main aims of our project has always been to see whether the fans would be able to make a contribution that would, above all, help reduce the debt of a club that has a lot of it.”
“If the debt were to be reduced, then there would be savings on interest costs, I think around €30 million per year,” Cottarelli predicted.
“We think, and we also have empirical evidence support this, that a stronger link between the club and the fans would also be created, and so in that sense you would increase the revenues,” he continued.
“The problem is that all of this would only possible if we were to either find an agreement with the club, or with some institutional investor who would be able to at least match our amount, or €500 million,” Cottarelli said.
“Or even more than that, because that’s the evaluation, when you talk about a club like Inter, and also all the debts that it has then the evaluation can reach as high as €1 billion.”
“We approached the club twice initially, actually,” he said.
“But the owners do not seem to be interested at all at the moment.”
“We’ve been trying to find foreign investors, we’re still looking,” Cottarelli said.
“So the idea isn’t dead,” he went on, “but it’s clear that with only the money that comes from fans, whether small, medium, or large investments, we wouldn’t be able to move forward with those amounts alone.”
“We need someone who believes in the project and has more financial muscle like an institutional investor, or we need an owner who believes in the project,” Cottarelli noted.