After 12 years overseeing the return of Juventus to the top of Italian football, Andrea Agnelli has stepped down as President of the club that has been in his family for decades. Agnelli and the Board stepped down under a cloud of suspicion last month with investigations ongoing into financial irregularities in the club’s transfer business.
Speaking during the Juventus Shareholders’ Meeting this week, Agnelli’s parting comments started on a sombre note.
“First of all, I want to remember to captains of Juventus who we recently lost, Castano and Vialli. I ask you to observe a minute’s silence.
“I can’t hide my emotion, a chapter of Juventus’ history ends today.”
Juventus under Agnelli along with Real Madrid and Barcelona are the three clubs still supporting the European Super League even though the project now seems dead in the water. Agnelli however reiterated the need for the Super League even more so now than before.
“We’ve seen transitions at Chelsea, Milan, Newcastle, Atalanta and Leeds. Consortiums like Chelsea, RedBird’s Milan, PIF’s Newcastle and Pagliuca for Atalanta.
“We are witnessing an expanding phenomenon such as multi properties. CityGroup, RedBull, RedBird, 777. We have no certain data, but Goldman & Sachs is investing €1b in football, there is an interest in the sector.
“To me, Governors didn’t provide a suitable answer, they haven’t evolved and don’t see the difference between game and business.
“Differences are becoming more and more evident. As a UEFA member and ECA President, the analysis was clear. The system was not sustainable, and clubs were the only ones taking risks. There was disaffection from fans and we’ve often been criticised for highlighting this, which is becoming clear also to those managing the ‘middle’ level.”
Despite the criticism and the European court ruling that UEFA was not a monopoly, he insisted that the Super League was still the right way to go forward.
“Our proposal was to create an ecosystem for the leading European leagues to increase stability, keeping a balance between national and European competitions.
“Serie A has had only 68 teams since it became a unique league almost 100 years ago. It’s a system open to everyone based on sporting competitiveness. UEFA and ECA proposed it in 2019, then I don’t need to remember what happened. There was COVID and I don’t want to touch that part.
“If I wanted to keep my privileged position as ECA President, I wouldn’t have taken certain decisions in 2021. European football needs structural changes otherwise, we will decline, favouring the Premier League, which will dominate.
“The current regulators do not want to hear about football’s problems. They are in a monopoly position and I hope the European Court will recognise UEFA’s dominant position.”
The final ruling will be made by a 15-member Grand Chamber next spring, and Agnelli continued -
“The hope is that the European Court of Justice recognises professional sport as an industry, since the turnover of football is 55 billion euros (£48bn).
“I thank Real Madrid and Barcelona who, together with Juventus, had the courage to face the threats from UEFA.”
Unique, unforgettable, unrepeatable: thirteen seasons of the Andrea Agnelli era. pic.twitter.com/rdxQz3mBgH— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) January 17, 2023
The Agnelli family founded carmaker Fiat, which is now owned by the Stellantis group, and which has owned Juventus for a century. Agnelli will also be stepping down from other boards after discussion with his cousin John Elkann, who heads up Exor, and Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares. He will however retain his spot on the board of Giovanni Agnelli B.V. which is the controlling shareholder in Exor.
“My desire is to want to face the future with a clean slate, to have freedom to think and act. And for this reason it feels like a duty to take a step back from the boards.”
Agnelli went on to list the club’s achievements during his time in charge, including nine consecutive league titles and 19 trophies in all, and the recently-formed Women’s team adding another five league titles in a row.
“I want to recall some moments of this journey: the real estate development of Juventus, the Stadium, the JTC, J|Medical, the shops throughout Italy, the renovation of Vinovo.
“Another aspect I want to mention is the change of the logo. it is a choice made that will bear fruit in the long term and will give us recognition and the possibility of extending the brand in various areas.
“Sports results, the creation of Juventus Women and their results, Next Gen which is bringing talents to the First Team. In my opinion we can aspire within a few years to have at least 50% of our First Team come from the youth sector.”
He ended by thanking the people he worked closest with - Pavel Nedved, Maurizio Arrivabene, Fabio Paratici, Beppe Marotta, Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri, Maurizio Sarri and Andrea Pirlo, and the Juventus family at large.
“The last and most important element, Deniz and my children have been the founding part of this journey that leads me to open a new chapter. Quoting Deniz’s words, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.
“I thank all the women and men of Juventus. Fino Alla Fine.”