Corriere dello Sport (Roberto Maida, Guido D’Ubaldo) “What’s happened? It’s not like they’ve said no.” From the other side of the Atlantic, James Pallotta is playing things down. At this time of political confusion and spasmodic expectations, the Roma president remains clear-headed and is holding his ground. He hasn’t lost control of his position to either political institutions or the media. Pallotta is in constant contact with his colleagues at Trigoria, and was calm about the release of the Region of Lazio’s documentation about the stadium. “The City of Rome only requested a 30 day extension period for the Conferenza dei Servizi, as they were perfectly entitled to do,” explained Pallotta, who clearly hasn’t lost hope of starting construction on the Tor di Valle site on time, i.e. before the summer. Nothing has changed, in his opinion, compared to 3 days ago, when the grant of the extension slowed down – but didn’t stop – the project.
There is also almost complete silence from officials at Trigoria, where no one has followed up on the threats of suing for damages that were made a few months ago. Now is the time for realpolitik, for diplomacy that is more concerned with achieving an objective than claiming what they feel is their right. While Mauro Baldissoni – who was a lawyer before becoming a Roma director – publicly reminded Raggi and her council on 15th June last year that “if the stadium project stops, you risk a lawsuit of hundreds of millions of Euros”, yesterday the club preferred to move through private channels to obtain clarification from the city hall, which arrived in the evening. It was an injection of confidence for Pallotta’s plans, which right from day one relied on the construction of a new stadium as a necessary precondition for growing the club on an international stage.
And so last night, sources close to the project’s instigators – i.e. Roma and the owner of the site at Tor di Valle, Luca Parnasi – expressed their optimism. “We have confidence in the institutions involved in the decision-making process”, which is, essentially, the City of Rome, as the Region of Lazio is simply a guarantor of transparency and procedural regularity in this process. The institutions themselves “won’t want to pass up the opportunity of an €1.6 billion investment in the city. The document sent by the City of Rome to the Region of Lazio today is purely administrative in nature and doesn’t constitute a political position.” This, according to Pallotta, is the crucial point. “Although this document,” the sources observe, “is written in a way that raises doubts, it is only calling for small modifications which the project’s proponents can easily factor into the project in order to obtain a favourable outcome and therefore receive the final approval.
Regardless of the statements that are filtering out of the club, Roma are impatient for one reason alone: the lack of continuity in their discussions with their colleagues in the City of Rome. At Trigoria, people want greater ease of access to the discussions and debates in order to speed things up and reduce the risks of misunderstandings. However, the attitude of the mayor, Virginia Raggi, and the political instability of the Five Star Movement (who are busy with a number of other tasks) have made relationships difficult. As a result, this has had a negative effect on the project to complete a stadium that Roma fans have been dreaming of for decades.
The impression is that, for now, the club won’t kick up a fuss and will stay calm. But how long is it possible to stay calm for while no progress is made? In a situation that is more about money than ideologies, anything is possible.