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Inter Milan criticises Mayor’s stadium ‘standstill’ claims

Inter Milan has hit out at comments made by Mayor Giuseppe Sala that its new stadium project with rival AC Milan is at a “standstill” due to uncertainty over the Italian Serie A football club’s ownership situation.

Progress on the ‘Nuovo Stadio Milano’ project has stalled of late, with Inter feeling the need to respond to comments made by Sala yesterday (Thursday). “Until Inter in particular clarifies their fate, things must necessarily be at a standstill for us,” Sala said, according to the Il Giorno newspaper.

“The point is, and I want to tell the Milanese, we are not only talking about the stadium, we are talking about a project for which half of the investment is on the stadium, the other is for other things that will then go on to compose the future of that area. 

“All this means that there will be five or six years of work and I cannot entrust a district of the city for such a long period to companies whose future ownership is not certain. I speak respectfully of the Zhangs, but they must clarify what the future of the company will be. Until then I think it is logical to stop.”

Inter is currently majority owned by Chinese company Suning, with the club chairman being Steven Zhang, the son of Suning founder Zhang Jindong. Inter is currently said to be seeking fresh investment in the club, while its long term ownership has also been questioned after Suning’s decision to withdraw its financial backing of Chinese Super League champion Jiangsu FC.

Inter said in a statement: “FC Internazionale Milano has a glorious history of over a hundred years. It existed before Mayor Sala and will continue to exist after his mandate ends.

“We find the statements of the Mayor of Milan offensive to the ownership, disrespectful to the history and reality of the club and its millions of fans in Milan and around the world and irrelevant to the current administrative process of the Nuovo Stadio Milano project.

“Should it be confirmed that Inter and the ownership are not appreciated by the current administration, we will take the consequent decisions.”

In recent weeks, Inter and Milan are said to have sent new documentation on the stadium project to the council. This included clarifications regarding the quantity and quality of the spaces that will remain in public use, plus updates on the entertainment-focused aspects of the scheme.

The stadium project has also been hit by political uncertainty. Elections had been scheduled in Milan for May, but it was announced earlier this month that mayoral elections in many of Italy’s major cities – including Milan, Rome, Turin and Naples – will now be staged between September 15 and October 15 due to the impact of COVID-19.

In November, Milan and Inter were reported to have received the support of global finance groups JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs for their new shared stadium. The Serie A clubs filed a feasibility study and new economic and financial plan with Milan’s authorities in which they sought to resolve concerns laid out by city chiefs earlier this year regarding the revamp of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, better known as the San Siro.

Under the plans, certain parts of the San Siro will be retained as a historical symbol of the iconic venue. In May 2020, AC Milan and Inter Milan unveiled fresh details on two proposals to create the new 60,000-seat stadium and sports and entertainment district.

In January, the clubs presented new plans for the future of the Meazza, outlining how the venue would be transformed into a destination for sports and entertainment events. The clubs had previously said they were prepared to work on alternative proposals for the San Siro but maintained their discomfort at retaining the stadium as a venue for professional sports if a new facility is developed.

The city council gave plans for a new stadium a “conditional yes” back in October 2019, with assurances needed on regeneration plans for the San Siro before the proposal is given the all-clear. The development came after the two clubs announced in September 2019 that Populous and Manica/Sportium had been shortlisted to design a new stadium that they would share.

Images: Nuovo Stadio Milano