Pagliuca: ‘Liverpool were interested 15 years ago, but Atalanta were excellent for us, managed very well’

The majority shareholder spoke on the sidelines of the Business of Football Summit, the event organized by the Financial Times: “Juve? Everyone has to play by the same rules.”

“We looked at several other assets, including Liverpool about fifteen years ago. But Atalanta were excellent for us, very well managed, with little risk of relegation.” Word of Stephen Pagliuca, co-chairman of Bain Capital and majority shareholder of the Bergamo Dea, who revealed this market anecdote on the sidelines of the Business of Football Summit, the event organized by the Financial Times. “We immediately loved Atalanta because they had an excellent youth sector, were able to cultivate important talent and are a competitor for the title in Italy: in short, they had everything we wanted,” said the co-owner of the Boston Celtics . Pagliuca revealed that “the passion is great both in Boston and in Bergamo. The biggest difference is that you often see European clubs getting into trouble since there are no restrictions like in the NBA and NFL, especially in the United States with the salary cap limiting uncontrolled spending.


The discussion then expanded to the rest of Serie A. “It seems to me that ten of the twenty clubs have American investors and I’m sure they are focusing on creating a great league and bringing champions back to Italy. For this we must focus on the growth of revenues from television rights and sponsors”. And then a comment on the Juventus case. “I think it revolves around the theme of Fair Play: I applaud the leagues that make everyone, from Juventus to my club, play according to the same rules – said Pagliuca -. The more leagues ask their clubs to act responsibly, the greater the competitive balance. The NBA is fantastic from this point of view, they make sure that everyone plays by the same rules”. Pagliuca then admitted that he “learned a lot from the Percassis in this period, from the way they managed the club to what they know about the world of football”.

Growth plans

What are Pagliuca’s plans to help Atalanta grow? “We are very optimistic, starting with the completion of our beautiful stadium, which will be able to offer much more to the fans than before.” At the end of the construction site, the capacity of 25,000 spectators will be reached. In the meantime the numbers of the internal races are nearly sold out. And for Saturday’s match against Udinese, four sectors of the Gewiss Stadium have already been sold out. “Atalanta can become an important brand globally and we are already trying to find ways to monetize our followers,” concluded Pagliuca.