Erick Thohir, the new Inter Milan president, has joked that a bid for Lionel Messi could be a possibility in future. To be fair, his new team had just lost a friendly to Switzerland’s Chiasso, so he was no doubt trying to lighten the mood. But the Indonesian tycoon has certainly made an impression since becoming the majority shareholder in October.
Having purchased a 70% stake in the club, Thohir was elected president in November. “Today is a very special day in my life,” he said at a press conference. “Our conviction lies in our passion, which will pave the way for Inter to have new, greater successes. Forza Inter!”
Thohir & Moratti
The relationship between Thohir and Massimo Moratti, the outgoing president, seems genuinely warm. “I am leaving this club…to people who have a sense of responsibility and respect for the colours and the history of Inter”, he said. Thohir later described Moratti as his “friend and new partner”. Moratti’s son is to take the family’s place on the board.
Thohir, 43, is already an owner of several sporting concerns around the world. He’s a part-owner (with others including Will Smith) of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, as well as the president of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association. He owns two basketball clubs and a football team in Indonesia, and has a large stake in Washington’s D.C. United.
The Moratti dynasty stretches back to the mid-1950’s, when Massimo’s father Angelo was at the helm during a golden period for Inter. Massimo himself has been popular with fans, as the side has returned to glory in the last few years. Inter are currently 4th in Serie A, having beaten Livorno 2-0 on November 9th.
The Nerazzurri face Bologna away and Sampdoria at home in their next two fixtures. Inter are generally evens to win the Bologna game, while the best odds you’ll get on Bologna beating them at the moment are 14/5; those who like a gamble in general might try an online casino like www.gamingclub.co.uk.
It’s natural that some dissenting voices will make themselves heard during this transition period, but Thohir will be able to allay the doubts of many by making good on his plans to build a new stadium for Inter. For many Italian clubs, low gate receipts due to public ownership of stadia is a real financial problem. It’s one that Thohir intends to address, having met with the Mayor of Milan already to discuss the situation. If his reputation as a man who gets things done turns out to be accurate, Inter may be looking at a new dawn.
By Simon Fitzpatrick