APPIANO GENTILE – Before returning to Jakarta, FC Internazionale president Erick Thohir gave an exclusive interview to Inter Channel.
This is what he said:
"Going to Madrid was an opportunity for me to learn. I believe that as a human you always have to improve your knowledge. For me being in Madrid and having an opportunity to see their training facilities that were built a few years back was awesome. Because the way they set up their facilities is perfect. Of course we can not copy 100% what they have because we’re in a transition period but we’re going to make improvements at La Pinetina over the next few years. One of the areas we need to improve is the gym facilities, and also for other things. It’s good for the players too. Having something similar to Valdebebas training centre is the right direction.
"In terms of the stadium, I think ours is beautiful. For the business models of the club it will stay that way. The revenue has to go up and you need discipline in the budgeting, you fine-tune things. And at the same time it’s important to sustain the club because you can build something but if you don’t take care of the maintenance then what’s the point? That’s why the business side is very important. Real Madrid do the same and we want to compete with them. We’re still in the top 15 clubs in the world and they are number one or number two. But we want to be number 10 and then slowly get closer to them. It’s not easy, we have to work very hard, but there’s an opportunity because our revenue can still grow.
"The other thing that I learnt was about Inter Forever. It’s good to stay connected with the former heroes we have. We need to respect what they’ve done for the club. I saw Real Madrid also do the same, so 8 June will be an exciting game for us in Madrid. And if that wasn’t enough, we have another game with them in the US on 26 July. So overall it was a good experience for me. It’s good to learn and understand what other clubs do, so that we can benchmark, see what is good for us and what is not, and take the good things on board ourselves."
"Revenue has to grow. It’s good when I see my management and team working very hard and we achieve something. And when the partners like Infront believe in the project it’s good. And what we have right now is €80 million for four years, it’s increased by 50%. That’s good, but we’re not stopping there. That’s also why we’d like to work and understand things with our partners, like Pirelli and Nike, such as how we can grow together globally. At the same time we want to have discussions with other partners like Volvo, Deutsche Bank and other companies that can work with us. It’s good that they trust our project. It’s an exciting moment and it can show how our team can grow. And you see the results. The Infront deal is a good deal but it’s not enough. We need to keep growing.
"I’ve known the derby for a long time. But of course as the president there’s different pressure and different emotions. We won the first one. I believe the second game will be very tough because both teams want to earn points. For us the last three games are very important. We want to make sure we get back to Europe. It’s good for us to be playing in different competitions, not only for the experienced players but also for the younger ones, so they get enough playing time. That’s why it’s exciting to have tours, especially when you have games against Real Madrid, Manchester United, Roma. It’s good to improve the team’s consistency. It’s good for us as a benchmark and for our young players to have experience.
"Would I like to say something special to the players? I believe the coach and players will play their best for the derby. I’m looking forward to the points – if possible three points. I know it’s not easy but we’ve been discussing this. I believe we can do our best, not only for the AC Milan game but also for the last two games. Who do I think can settle the derby? Well, I want to see all the players giving their best, so if we win then all the players are ‘man of the match’. Because to win you need the whole team, not just one player."
What has Inter given Erick Thohir in these first six months? "Well, I’m not here for the glamour, I’m here to work. The trust that Inter and Massimo Moratti have placed in me is an honour. That’s why when we had the shareholders’ meeting I said it’s an honour for me to be part of the family. It’s emotional too because I never thought I’d be president, but I just want to work hard and build a strong team with the management and the staff . Inter’s giving me lots of things. Sometimes people recognise me more than before and actually that’s tough. In Jakarta they know me already but when I go to London and in Milan and Italy now, forget it. When I go to a restaurant, it’s like ‘You met the president in that restaurant? It’s unbelievable.’ But I’m a regular person. I walk in the streets of London and people come up to you because they recognise you. It’s a good thing but you lose some of your privacy.
"Inter is a big brand and I represent Inter, but I keep saying that Inter must be at the top, not Thohir at the top. Inter is the number one thing for us. So everybody under Inter has to respect Inter and its traditions. Because Inter is Inter, not only a football team but a history of human beings, a history of brotherhood. It’s good that we can contribute something for Inter. And I think we all agree when we say ‘This is us here and Inter is higher.’
"I even mentioned it to the coach and players: with all your famous names Inter are still bigger than you. That’s why when I make the decisions I think of what’s best for us, the fans. Not what’s best for me. That’s why when the media says, ‘You’re buying Hernanes’, I say, ‘No, Inter are buying Hernanes’. We make decisions together.
"Of course in the last five months I’ve been very focused on the reorganisation of the company, in terms of what we had in the shareholders’ meeting, and on how to create more revenue and building the team. I’m really looking forward to the future regarding other aspects of Inter: the media, the website, the stadium facilities. At this time I still don’t feel I have that kind of focus because of other priorities. Basically there are a lot of things to do in the next two years. Good luck for the derby, I’ll be watching from Indonesia. Forza Inter!"