On September 23, 2021, it was announced that Genoa had been acquired by 777 Partners, a US-based private investment firm founded by Steven W. Pasko and Josh Wander, who also have stakes in various other teams globally as part of a multi-club model.
Despite being relegated to Serie B in their very first season under 777 Partners ownership, Genoa immediately returned to Serie A the following year, and at the time of writing, they are comfortably just below mid-table in Serie A.
Since the new ownership took over, Genoa have seen their clothing sales increase from 3,000 items sold in 2021 to around 25,000 in 2023, and sponsorship money has increased from €2.7 million ($3 million) to €9 million.
Speaking to Sportcal (Globaldata Sport), Genoa’s chief executive Andrés Blazquez outlines the significance of the new ownership’s changes: “Now we have a roster that is about €30 million cheaper than when we took over, but it has a value that is about eight times more valuable than what we found.
“We will have transformed the business and the sports of the club in basically two years. So it is going okay!”
Genoa have the unique challenge of being one of the oldest soccer teams in the world while also having to try to keep up with modern soccer and modern trends.
Genoa were established in 1893, making them Italy’s oldest soccer team still standing, and also Italy’s fourth most successful in terms of championships won, winning nine league titles, including the inaugural championship in 1898.
However Genoa’s last Serie A win was in the 1923-24 season, and the club has experienced multiple relegations since then.
But Blazquez does not see Genoa’s reputation as an old traditional team as a stumbling block to modernization efforts, and their social media figures seem to back this up.
Since the takeover, Genoa’s TikTok has grown from 30,000 to 263,000 at the time of writing, with 3.7 million likes on their account.
Blazquez says: “It has attracted a new group of people that identify with the way we do things, so we transmit basically our values.
“I mean, the tradition is something that is helping us build the base for the future. It's a blessing that we have this old club and this tradition, because we can play on this tradition to expand the brand. So we use this as our strength. So I don't see as a contradiction.”
Blazquez then shows his office, which he says is a sixteenth century palace, highlighting the traditional side of the club, before then outlining how they still utilize the latest in modern technology.
“We employ the most modern approaches in AI and IT to identify players, so we have one of the best youth academies, in terms of the highest rate of players that come up from the academy, and this is basically due to our traditional history, to our heritage, but also to application of modern methodology.
“And so we're very modern, but we're also very, very traditional.”
Genoa have called the Stadio Luigi Ferraris their home since 1911, naturally making it one of the oldest in Italy.
Yet with Italy part of a bid to co-host the Euro 2032 national teams tournament with Turkey, Italy has listed the Stadio Luigi Ferraris as one of the host stadiums, pending some renovations.
Ten cities are candidates to host the tournament, with only five set to make the final cut for the competition, and the city of Genoa and its mayor have been supportive of plans to redevelop the stadium.
Blazquez explains: “Our hope and our plan is that in the 2025-26 season, we have the main stand already completed. And by 2026-27 season we will have a stadium fully refurbished in place to be able to be presented as a solid candidate to host the European teams.”
The plan will be to increase revenue by having the stadium fit to be used more often by hosting non-sporting events such as concerts, which are currently not possible due to accessibility restrictions in the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.
So far Genoa has already increased its stadium revenue since the takeover from €4.5 million to €12 million, with average attendance sitting at 98% capacity.
Blazquez partially attribites this to the club tripling attendance in 15 to 25 years olds, and a 140% increase in women attending Genoa matches.
Sponsorship and internationalization strategy
777 Partners own stakes in multiple soccer clubs covering three continents, including Spain’s Sevilla, Brazil’s Vasco de Gama, Belgium’s Standard Liège, France’s Red Star FC, Australia’s Melbourne Victory, and Germany’s Hertha BSC.
The ownership group plan to use this large reach to their advantage when it comes to sponsorships for all clubs involved, being able to boast one of the largest multi-club models in world soccer.
“We have basically dramatically increased the sponsors right now, but I think the room to grow is tremendous. I think the growth that we foresee is more as a group, that we can provide to 20 international brands a single point of entry that has an addressable market of over 6 billion, that's what the reach of our clubs’ leagues is," says Blazquez.
“So we're already working on several international sponsors that that see us as this point of entry. So the growth is going to come both from domestic branding, classic sponsorship; but it also will come more from this, from what 777 Football Group offers, a group that is present in most geographies that they can really access from one single entry point.
“I think we're close to 100 million viewers, speaking exclusively of our clubs. And this is where the growth is coming. We already see tremendous interest in it right away, I don't want to disclose any names.
“But I will say that that's an area where we can really explode because it increases dramatically the value of our inventory. We can sell the shirt rights for 2 million. If we go into this kind of complex, we can do five times that for every single club. So that's what we see the growth, tremendous growth in that.”
On top of the perceived advantages of the multi-club model, Genoa also intend to use the large global Italian diaspora, in North and South America, as well as Europe and Australia, with a special focus on those of Genovese origin.
On top of this, there has also been an increase in both tourism and population in the city, which the club also intend to use to attract a wider fan base.
“I’m already seeing the results, we have about 30% of our social base coming from outside of Italy, which I think is not bad for a more or less regional club," Blazquez explains.
“We believe this number should be more like the opposite, more like 70% outside of Italy, we’re aiming to go in that direction, and that will also help us reach new types of sponsors.”
Blazquez says Part of Genoa’s plan to reach these audiences that may not otherwise know or support Genoa, is via music artists, however not just through performances at the renovated stadium, they plan to partner them with promotions and festivals too.
“Rita Ora is going to support in our expansion effort for the shirt which will come out in the next few days. So that's a way to expand the brand. With not an Italian person, but an international artist to reach a different audience," he says.
Blazquez explains that this is not a one off, but a part of a wider strategy being implemented. In fact, the club also wants to use local musicians to expand its brand too within Italy.
“We took a guy who's a growing artist in Italy, called Bresh. He is a big hardcore Genoa fan. And we basically identified his work, his song called Guasto d'amore (failure of love), it became number one in Italy, people are basically singing about Genoa in concerts across Italy, because its in the song, the song is about Genoa, about his love for the club.”
Bresh is an Italian singer and rapper who has sold over a million singles in Italy, having topped the Italian charts twice, and also a regular attendee of Genoa matches since he was young.
The club also plan to promote a music festival in the city, as well as making a film about Genoa for cinemas and Amazon Prime next year, and they also have plans to go into fashion, with Blazquez seeing soccer as an “art” in itself, making it not so separate from the arts and entertainment sectors.
While not seeing Genoa as having its own individual challenges unique to the club, Blazquez is keen to point to the challenges of unstable Serie A tv rights that are lacking in growth, and are falling behind the English Premier League behemoth.
Earlier this month the Premier League’s four-year deal with pay-tv broadcasters Sky and TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport) was secured, worth £6.7 billion ($8.45 billion).
Meanwhile in October, Serie A’s domestic rights deal for the next five seasons with Sky Italia (pay-TV) and DAZN (streaming), was only worth €4.5 billion ($4.8 billion) in total, which is actually a €30 million drop annually from its 2021 deal.
Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis told media at the time: “It's a total defeat for Italian football, these deals will be the death of Italian football.”
Blazquez believes that this discrepancy between the English and Italian domestic tv deals is down to piracy.
“I believe that we have a huge amount of piracy in Italy, a lot of people don’t pay. I think it’s not as bad in the Premier League, in Spain," he says.
However he points to new laws that are set to be put in place in Italy to eliminate piracy by more aggressively tackling it, with the belief that once piracy is minimized, all Serie A clubs will receive a huge boost in revenue and viewership.
Nevertheless, Genoa plan to circumvent the issue almost entirely, by focusing revenue generation outside of tv rights as much as possible, which they believe is the biggest challenge facing soccer as a whole.
Non-tv rights revenue amounted to €7 million when 777 Partners took over, and according to Blazquez, it is now sitting between €20-22 million.
“We believe that in the next two years we will be able to do a 50/50 split between TV and non-TV revenue. Large clubs can do this, because they have a huge fan base, Real Madrid, Manchester United, these guys have this kind of distribution, but these clubs are more like 75/25, 90/10 *non tv to tv revenue distribution)," he says.
Genoa plan to achieve this via sponsorship, fan engagement, and an upcoming €100 million stadium investment.
In fact, Blazquez says, stadium revenue has increased “by almost three times in two years” via improved revenue management and fan engagement, and this is only expected to increase after the stadium renovations for Euro 2032.
“It takes time, but I think we are on the right track, and we're very proud of what we have done so far."