Fascinating article in Gazzetta della Sporta that more than implies that Massimo Moratti’s frustration with Erick Thohir’s ownership of the club is what led to today’s sale to Suning Group.
As we are learning, the Moratti family were not happy with how Thohir was running the club. Massimo Moratti’s wife Milly went as far as to call Erick Thohir’s reign as Inter president “a wasted opportunity.”.
Former Inter chief executive and Moratti confidant Ernesto Paolillo was even more critical of Thohir, calling his time as club president a failure.
“I am not surprised at all, because it was inevitable Thohir would sell after his failed project,” Paolillo told Radio 24.
“Thohir left the club in more or less the same condition he found it, which means he got lucky, because his tenure was a failure.
“I’d give him four out of 10 for his performance and I think he must know that too. He did only what anyone else would’ve done.”
Under the arrangement when Thohir bought the club from the Moratti family this November was a critical date as they could carry on with things as they are or make Thohir buy them out.
Neither option was appealing as privately Moratti was expressing his disillusionment at Thohir saying that he treated Inter like a “normal business.” Inter was more than a investment to Moratti. It was a passion and he put €1.1bn into the club in his 18 years as president. He considered the €75m that Thohir injected as loose change.
It seems that unable to stomach seeing Thohir as the long-term owner of the club, Moratti decided to contact investment bankers Goldman Sachs in February to find investors willing to take at least a minority stake in the club.
Thohir was comfortable with Moratti selling his minority share to someone like Suning as he would still retain control of the club. But Moratti out-manoeuvred his successor and left him with little option but to relinquish the helm to Suning.
As James Horncastle wrote in the Gazzetta piece, “It’s fair to say Thohir has been a disappointment.”
It is no coincidence that in his first interview that Suning Holdings Group chairman Zhang Jindong said on inter.it:
Suning’s investments and resources will help Inter return to their glory days and become stronger and stronger, attracting the stars of world football.’
Ernesto Pellegrini bought Karl-Heinz Rumenigge. Moratti went after Ronaldo and got him. Thohir instead preached caution. He said the club would have to sell before it could buy and although that reflected the economic reality laid bare in Inter’s accounts, all it did was leave the impression that Thohir didn’t want to put much, if any, of his own money into the club.
Ultimately it seems that unwillingness on Thohir’s part to act was too much for Massimo Moratti. He realized that he made a mistake in selling majority ownership to Thohir and wanted to rectify that mistake which he did but finding a way to move Thohir aside and bring in new owners. Ones that seem to be better aligned with the Moratti’s family vision of how Inter should be run.