Inter, Woken Giant or Financial Mirage?

By This Is Ibrox
 May 23, 2021

A decade since a league trophy was last lifted, a club etched into the annals of European football history that had lost its way and a legendary football figure at the helm guiding them to glory. It is safe to say Inter Milan’s story this season sounds a little familiar.

Led by the Antonio Conte’s passion and a team filled with power, flair and fight, Inter Milan were crowned champions of Serie A at the beginning of May for the first time since 2011. There was an explosion of joy from their fans, not unlike scenes down Glasgow way in March. Thousands spilled out onto the streets to celebrate the club’s 19th Scudetto and stopping rivals Juventus’ tilt at a 10th league title in a row. 

All is rosy in the garden of the Nerazzuri, right? Not so much.

The Background
Suning Holding Group paid a reported $300m+ for the club in 2016. The club has spent over £300m on big-name transfers since that takeover on the likes of Lukaku, Martinez, Hakimi and more. Now, it appears, they are a league winning, history-making team just waiting to be dismembered to keep the club’s head above water.

Suning have been searching for external investment to help manage Inter’s monstrous wage bill with no success to date. Now, the electronics firm are under big pressure from the Chinese government, who hold a significant stake in the firm, to focus on making more money through its core business.

The Chinese Football Bubble

Until February this year, Suning also owned the reigning Chinese Super League champions Jiangsu FC, formerly known as Jiangsu Suning FC. 

A recent Chinese Football Association ruling meant corporate businesses are no longer allowed to be included in team names, lessening the marketing appeal and overall benefit for many bankrolling the clubs. Following that ruling, ‘guidance’ given by the Chinese government and the lack of new investment coming forward, Suning released a statement at the end of February stating: ‘We have no choice but to announce: with immediate effect, Jiangsu Football Club ceases operations of its teams’. 

Think about that. The reigning champions of a country as big as China wound up with no notice, just so Suning could follow the government’s recommendation of ‘focusing on its retail business resolutely’. Win the league one minute, gone the next. 

Back to Inter…
And that’s why Inter is potentially heading for trouble. Suning hold a stake of just over 68% in the Italian league champions. According to The New York Times, ‘the bill is coming due, putting the team’s future at doubt’. 

Assurances have been given to fans by the cash-strapped owners that Inter Milan are safe. Newspaper reports say the owners can’t pay the huge wage bill for much longer and it will struggle to meet the next instalments on transfer fees already committed – most urgently on the horizon being the £8.9m instalment to Real Madrid as part of the Hakimi transfer.

One Inter Milan supporters club representative is quoted in various media outlets as saying: ‘We are concerned, but we are not frightened about this situation – we are just waiting for news.’

It has been a huge year for fans of Inter Milan as they returned to the top of the pile in Italy. Now, a nervous summer awaits to see just how bad things really are. 

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