James Pallotta is a familiar name to American basketball fans. As one of the partners of the iconic Boston Celtics, Mr. Pallotta has significant sports management experience and success. But now Mr. Pallotta has a new sporting venture to capture his attention: Associazione Sportiva Roma.
On Friday, April 15th, a consortium headed by Thomas DiBenedetto became the first majority foreign ownership group in the Italian Serie A with their purchase of 60% of AS Roma. Mr. Pallotta is one of the four partners of the newly-formed group, DiBenedetto AS Roma LLC. Mr. Pallotta was interviewed by Ugo Trani of the Rome based daily, "Il Messaggero," from Boston.
This interview took place at the Nebo restaurant which is owned and managed by Mr. Pallotta's sisters, Carla and Christine.
Interview Highlights * The importance and influence of his Italian family background. * How his initial interest developed for AS Roma. * The roles of his partners in the new venture. * How the successes at the Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics will influence this new project. * How the deal has already created interest in the Italian-American soccer community. * His thoughts on a potential friendly between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Fenway Park. * His thoughts on current AS Roma manager, Vincenzo Montella.
Ugo Trani: "And together, all of you from the consortium, what is your objective?" James Pallotta: "To build a winning team and to be a champion right away."
Ugo Trani: "Why did you decide to try soccer from across the Atlantic Ocean? James Pallotta: "I speak only for myself. I'm Italian-American but I feel very Italian. My father always said: 'Before everything, you are Italian.' My oldest son speaks perfect Italian and my maternal grandmother was from near Rome. Her family name was Savioli. My great-grandfather had a furniture shop in Poggio Nativo. The other part of my father's family is from Calabria. My father, James, is from Teramo. My mother is from Canosa in Puglia. Her family name was Di Giacomo. In my house, everyone loves soccer but up until a week ago, they didn't know anything (about the deal.) In the last two days, the profile of my sister on Facebook has 1,600 new friends from Rome."
Ugo Trani: "Why AS Roma?" James Pallotta: "I became interested in the Roman club after the negotiation brought forward by George Soros fell through (a few years ago). Then there was a financial crisis and I had to let it be. But the true promoter of this initiative was DiBenedetto. When Tom spoke to me about the project, I already knew a part of it. And he convinced me right away."
Ugo Trani: "Which players on Roma do you know about?" James Pallotta: "Francesco Totti is Francesco Totti. He's our captain and symbol."
Ugo Trani: "Can you also name three other top players, such as your greats from the Celtics, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen? James Pallotta: "Did you forget Rondo? Anyway, I don't like to speak of my favorite players. All are important even if each one of us has his favorites. And also those who we don't like but we can't really say."
Ugo Trani: "Can you explain to us the roles of your group?" James Pallotta: "Tom is the one who manages the consortium. At the end of the day, it's he who makes the decisions. We are at his side (Richard D'Amore and Michael Ruane are the other two partners.) We have lived in the same area and know each other well. We all go on vacation to Florida together. You'll see that together, we will do well. And we will bring the Scudetto (to win the Italian league championship) to Roma again."
Ugo Trani: "The proceeding experiences in other sports, do they give you reason (to believe they'll be successful in soccer)? Can you discuss them?" James Pallotta: "When Tom began with the Red Sox, his objective was the World Series, a title that was lacking for 86 years. And it happened. It was the same idea of my group with the Boston Celtics. We said that in five years, we will be champions. And we won in the fifth year. Ten years ago was the last Italian league championship of AS Roma. It's a brand known all over the world. We must bring it back to its glorious history that it deserves. From 3,000 years of civility and battles. What do you want?"
Ugo Trani: "Do your strategies take into account the Financial Fair Play regulations?" James Pallotta: "I can't respond because that is part of the management at the club and on this matter, it is Tom's exclusive domain. In the last four days, however, I have received many phone calls from persons involved in soccer in the USA and they have asked us to bring Roma on a tour in the States. We know that there is much interest for Roma in Boston, New York and Chicago. This interest will explode in the future even more so with Italian-American owners. Perhaps I'm looking too far ahead, but I'm thinking of a Roma vs. Liverpool friendly already this summer at Fenway Park."
Ugo Trani: "What do you know about Vincenzo Montella?" James Pallotta: "I follow his work but obviously, don't know him personally. I watch all of the Roma games on television. I'll look to be there for the last part of the Italian championship."
His sister Christine looks at him strangely and sighs.
"If you'll go at the end of May, are you saying that the Celtics won't be in the running for the title? Have you thought about that, Jim?"
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