In this week’s ‘Let’s Talk About’ editorial, Alex Mascitti gives his thoughts on Roma’s President James Pallotta.
As an Italian-American, I’ve grown up with the traditional stereotypes anyone with a strange sounding last name would have to endure. From an early age I was exposed to the Italian traditions, tastes and attitude. In the end, those traits and values have greatly shaped the man who’s writing this article today.
I’ve heard all the mafia, Mussolini jabs. My friends messing with me over the years, making fun of my love for pasta and cannoli’s. Or perhaps my most favorite, the cut-away’s on Family Guy giving us a good laugh while poking fun at our stereotypes. I’m incredibly proud of my heritage and of my fellow Paisani who share those ‘funny sounding last names’.
A few weeks ago, I got a message from a director from Roma wanting to “speak with me” about an article I had written on the Stadio della Roma dilemma. Naturally, this was before it was finally approved about a week ago.
That director turned out to be none other than James Pallotta, right when he was about to get onto a plane out of Logan International.
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The conversation between I and Mr. Pallotta was incredible. The fact that he took the time to clear the record and speak with me regarding a very tense and much publicized situation instantly made me realize how straight-forward of a man James really is. He speaks plainly, straight-forward and treated me like we had known each other for years. I felt like I was speaking to a family friend, rather than your stereotypical executive.
So here I am, talking to one of the wealthiest Italian-Americans of all time, who happens to own one of the biggest clubs in Europe. On a professional level, if there’s somebody who fit the mould of everything I’d like to become, I was talking to him.
But the point of this article isn’t to simply share how I had a 10 minute conversation with the President of AS Roma. It’s to put into perspective how he and his new regime have taken an archaic, sluggish side into an eccentric and title challenging club year after year.
His journey in modernizing Roma started off with changing logos. Something which was fiercely resisted by the hardcore Giallorossi ultras. The new, sleeker logo fit perfectly into the long-term plan for the club. Remaining off the field, Roma’s Social Media department ran by Paul Rogers rose from nearly last place among the UEFA Champions League teams into the top 5. The progress has been remarkable in all sectors.
In every single regard, Roma are better off now than they were pre-Pallotta. The financials of the club will greatly improve going forward once the stadium is completed, and that could be what finally sets them on the same platform as perennial title favorites, Juventus.
On the pitch, many people have complained about Roma coming up short. But take away the blunder in Portugal in August, and Pallotta’s Roma have qualified for the Champions League in three out of the four years he’s owned the club. That’s remarkable progress with all things considered.
Pallotta is a revolutionary in a league that refuses to come out of the 1990s. He’s a forward thinker where many other owners like to sit back behind the shadows. He also manages things in a similar way to Juventus and Napoli owners Andrea Agnelli and Aurelio De Laurentiis, can you take a guess where all three teams are in the table? They’re all at the top, and given the projects all three teams have in place, I’d bargain that they will be holding those spots for years to come.
While many in the Italian press may not be too fond of Mr. Pallotta, those who understand what he is undertaking can only admire what he has accomplished – and what is yet to come.