May 27, 2024

Ilfa Sprot

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Monza to Serie A: How Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani brought their new club to Italy’s top division

5 min read
Monza to Serie A: How Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani brought their new club to Italy’s top division

There are only twenty-three kilometers that separate the San Siro, where AC Milan and Inter Milan play their home matches from AC Monza’s U-Power Stadium. It’ll be a short trip then for fans of Madrid’s two super clubs when they play away next year at Monza, because for the first time in their history Monza is set to play Serie A soccer (You can catch all the action on Paramount+). 

The club won the final of the Serie B promotion playoffs against Pisa, achieving a historic moment for the club and for the league as well. Monza is probably most well known around the globe for hosting an iconic Formula 1 race, but from now on its name will also be associated with one of the twenty Serie A clubs. Monza’s promotion to the first division is something that might seem crazy outside of the country, but this is only the first achievement of a project that has huge ambitions.

So here’s a little background on Monza. It’s considered an industrial city, with many entrepreneurs that started to grow their business in this part of the region, called Brianza. It’s not a coincidence that the owner of the club, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, built his political empire in the early 90’s targeting the same kind of population that live in this area: entrepreneurs, small business owners, middle class population. Berlusconi lives in this area as well, in the famous Villa San Martino in Arcore, only a few kilometers from the U-Power Stadium. After selling AC Milan in 2017, Berlusconi decided to acquire Monza one year later with the ambition to bring the club in the first division. To do so, he brought former AC Milan CEO Adriano Galliani with him. 

The Berlusconi-Galliani era was probably one of the most successful in the history of European soccer. From the late 80’s they won 29 trophies in 31 years, including eight Serie A titles, five Champions Leagues, one Coppa Italia, five Supercoppa Italiana, three FIFA Club World Cups and five UEFA Super Cups. Galliani was born in Monza and started his career in the world of soccer there before joining the Fininvest Group and Silvio Berlusconi at the end of the 80’s. “This is a dream coming true, I’m from Monza and I’m particularly touched. If we believed we could do it? Well, we believed we could make it last year actually…”, Galliani said to Sky Italy after the match won against Pisa on Sunday. 

Adriano Galliani was known at AC Milan as one of the best minds in the world of transfer market. He particularly specialized in making singings in the last days of the window managing to pull off special and oftentimes unexpected moves. He did so also with the help of another historic figure of Italian soccer, Ariedo Braida, who, ironically, is the man behind the success of Cremonese, another team promoted to Serie A this season. 

When Berlusconi acquired AC Milan, the club was coming out of some difficult years during which they had been forced down to play in the Italian second division. Galliani and Berlusconi worked to make Milan incredibly successful and brought world class players such as Van Basten, Gullit, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Robinho, Kakà, Shevchenko, Ibrahimovic, Pato, Cafù, Gattuso, Pirlo, Seedorf, just to name a few. But Berlusconi eventually decided to sell AC Milan when he understood that he was not financially able to compete with the other top European clubs. Even if his last years at AC Milan were not as successful as before, his legacy will stay forever and fans will always thank him, as they did last week when they were celebrating in the main square of Milan. Berlusconi was at the club’s dinner and when he waved, the fans were all singing his name and the chant: “There is only one President”.

After selling AC Milan in 2017, Berlusconi and Galliani only waited one year before starting on their new project. Despite the fact that the club was playing in the third division, the Monza project was forward looking from the very beginning. They invested money on players but also on infrastructures like the training center and the stadium. In their first full season at the club, the duo achieved promotion to Serie B, with yet another former AC Milan face, coach Christian Brocchi. The 2020/21 started with the goal of Serie A promotion and Galliani managed to sign Mario Balotelli, but the club narrowly missed out after losing in the promotion playoff semifinal. But the new season brought a new coach and new signings. Under former AC Milan player Giovanni Stroppa, Monza finally managed to get promoted for their first time. It’s true that Monza was aided by their financial resources which could convince Serie A players to play for a lower division, but they are not the only Serie B side with large financial resources, and other well funded teams failed to make it to the top flight league. Resources help, but the knowledge and experience of Adriano Galliani and his sporting director Antonelli, who was at the club since it went bankrupt in 2015, before the arrival of the new ownership. 

Now comes the fun part, not only for Monza fans but neutrals as well. Everyone should expect some incredible signings, and no names can be ruled out. “I’ll talk with the President and let’s see what we can do. I spend a lot of money also in my private life, so let’s see!”, Galliani himself said Sunday night. He also added, “Thinking about Monza-Milan next year is a dream, my sons already asked me to beat Inter Milan, but this is another topic…” Monza fans can dream, because Silvio Berlusconi knows this is a great opportunity to show to the world he’s still one of the most successful Italian entrepreneurs, even if on September 29 he will turn 86. After reaching the Serie A, he said, “Next year we want to fight for the Scudetto and then play for the Champions League.” He smiled when he said such a statement, but considering his past and what he has done with AC Milan before and with Monza in the past four years, there’s probably more than a little bit of resolve behind the joke.

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