Silvio Berlusconi is back in football. And back in business
The year was 1986 when Silvio Berlusconi bought AC Milan, a glorious football club at risk of insolvency that in the following years would have become the most successful Italian team in the world. At the time of the change of ownership he declared: “Ac Milan? Albeit expensive, it is an affair of the heart, just like beatiful women”. The passion for both women and football has been certainly a leitmotif in Berlusconi’s life. However, if AC Milan represented a magnificent flywheel of his business and political growth, for him Monza now does not only represent an age-related pastime.
Monza and AC Milan
Monza never took part in the Italian “Serie A”, yet its football story began in 1912 and, since then, it nealry got promoted several times: the last one in 1979, when the red and white team lost the playoff final against Pescara, just when in first division AC Milan was winning its tenth scudetto, thereby achieving the mythical star on their jerseys. The cooperation agreement with AC Milan dates back to 1997 thanks to the presence of Adriano Galliani who, from 1984 to 1986, was vice-chairman of Monza, to then become the plenipotentiary CEO of the new AC Milan owned by Berlusconi.
After many footballers took the short two-way route between Milan and Monza, Christian Abbiati, future AC Milan’s goalkeeper, Zizi Roberts, pupil of legend George Weah, Dario Smoje, Drazen Brnčić and even a young Patrice Evra, future Manchester United star and 2008 Champions League winner all played under the lights of the Brianteo Stadium. Nevertheless, during the ’80s and before becoming a satellite club, great players like Daniele Massaro, Pierluigi Casiraghi, Francesco Antonioli and Anselmo Robbiati came out from Monza’s youth teams. The romance with AC Milan ended in 1999, when the then owner Valentino Giambelli sold the club, driven by the protests organized by the supporters and the expensive operating costs.
Monza’s last season in second division dates back to 2001. Then, dark years with several changes in ownership and two bankruptcies forced the club to start over from the amateur football levels. Another curious affair between Monza and AC Milan is when the first, in 2009, was bought by a consortium which included former AC Milan footballer Clarence Seedorf. The Dutch would quit the club four years later, due to the continuous disputes with the management board, started with the choice of the coach. A year later, Seedorf himself would be hired by Adriano Galliani and Silvio Berlusconi as manager of AC Milan.
The new deal
The common thread between AC Milan and Monza continues: Silvio Berlusconi, 82 years old last September, acquired 100 percent of Monza the day before his birthday from the previous owner Nicola Colombo, son of Felice Colombo, in turn owner of AC Milan from 1977 to 1980 and chairman of the famed starred scudetto. Berlusconi left Nicola Colombo in charge, appointing the faithful Adriano Galliani as CEO. The new deal seems to be ambitious, with the purpose of bringing Monza to the Italian Serie A for the first time. To do so, the club will need a double promotion from the third division, as it has recently happened with teams like Benevento, Spal and Parma.
The possibility of a triple Lombard derby with AC Milan and FC Internazionale not only tickles the sport broadcasting companies, but also the pride of Silvio Berlusconi, who abandoned the football elite in April 2017, after the sale of AC Milan. Moreover, Berlusconi is going through a difficult political decline, with his party “Forza Italia” relegated to the opposition due to an old ruling class uncapable of facing the problems of the country and of contrasting the popular leadership of the emerging Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio.
Back then to football, Berlusconi will allegedly choose for his project many personalities belonging to his glorious past, granting them with key roles in the administrative, sporting and technical areas. For the occasion, the Lombard center could even boast a Baloon D’Or, Ricardo Kaká!
The city of Monza
Monza is not an ordinary, nameless town: provincial capital of Brianza subregion, it is the third most populous city in Lombardy after Milan and Brescia. Very popular worldwide for being the home of the Italian Formula One Gran Prix, whose track lies within one of the largest and most beatiful urban parks in Europe, Monza has also an influential local economy due to its position close to Milan and to the country’s largest motorways.
Among its beauties there is the Royal Villa, a Habsburg family residence surrounded by Monza Park, built in 1780 by the will of Empress of Austria Maria Theresa, as summer residence for her son. The magnificent project was realized by the architect Giuseppe Piermarini, who drew inspiration from the Schönbrunn Castle in Wien and from the Royal Palace of Caserta. Therefore, Monza and its local football club represent the opportunity for Silvio Berlusconi to build a great catchment area. What might look like a romantic gesture, could actually be his new business vision.
After the Sister Virginia Maria, more commonly known as the Noun of Monza, gave birth to two children in the nunnery and spent most of her life in prison, passing away at the age of 74 — rare thing in the 1600s —, also Silvio Berlusconi wants to make history in this city. Who knows if, just like her, he will inspire future characters of Italian literature.