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Livorno_Popolare, the popular shareholding that wants the majority of Livorno Calcio

Interview with some founders of the project that wants to arrive on top of the Tuscan club

Livorno_Popolare,  the popular shareholding that wants the majority of Livorno Calcio  Interview with some founders of the project that wants to arrive on top of the Tuscan club

The study group, the fantasies, the first projects; then comes the poster, a website, the word spreads, and in a few weeks 2500 signatures arrive. This is how Livorno_popolare was born (to be emphasized, with the underscore), the project born in Livorno and that through the popular shareholding wants to get to take over 51% of the local company, Livorno Calcio. That in the last five years has lived in great difficulty, between debts, absent companies, promotions and relegations. In a word, confusion. Thus, some Livorno under-40s, tired of seeing these problems, wanted to create something revolutionary and ideological, which, on the one hand, can bring a novelty in Italian football, and on the other, cure the evils of the Livorno football. In Europe there are already some clubs that have in their governance a form of popular shareholding, such as Barcelona F.C., Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao; then, in Germany, with the 50+1 rule, Bayer Leverkusen, Leipzig and Wolfsburg; in Italy, in Palermo, the fans organized themselves and managed to enter the company as minority shareholders, reaching 0.45%.

There is nothing official: at the moment, there is only one web page with a manifesto and a form for collecting memberships, plus Instagram and Facebook pages and a series of articles written by the press. Livorno_Popolare is still in phase 1, that of creating a valid authority to be able to go up inside the offices of the company and be able to sit and look at the accounts of the club. Then there will be - if the finances allow - an offer and, if it goes well, access to the governance. Operations that are not easy and that for the moment are part of the design phase, but the objectives are declared and there is serious and studied planning. Alessandro Colombini and Marco Brucianti, two of the founders of the made in Livorno project, explained this to nss sports. Alessandro is a student at the University of Pisa and manages social communication and deals with Livorno_Popolare's PR operations, while Marco is professor of History at a school in Livorno and takes care of the development aspects of the project. Together, among the things said, they agree on one thing: it is not a fairy tale. 

1 - Educate, Build, Develop, Democratic, Participatory, Accessible. These values and concepts are almost antithetical to the idea of football that is being born in recent years - with foreign properties, private equity funds.

Alessandro: These words exist for the manifesto because it was obvious that ours is a political statement: a political and social manifesto, but not a party one. Already that makes it clear that what we have in mind has nothing to do with what we are used to in Livorno and in football in general. Beyond that are words that are part of the political imagination because we want a project that is bottom-up, participatory, collective, revolutionary. Ours is a value and moral issue that refers to a certain idea of social management. 

Marco: The background of most of the people who joined this project comes from a certain political idea. We want to try to play football by conveying certain values and it is our ambition: a football that is not just football. I think the right word is value. Whether they are old or new ideas, they are always current and useful for us to affirm. Projects like ours are things that in 99% of cases are not affirmed and for this reason we think that Livorno_popolare is a break. Ours is a model that represents a break.

2- "Give a new meaning to things" reads your manifesto. You want to build a new sports model of governance and that is clear, but what is the ideological basis behind it?

Alessandro: The creation of the team has led to qualitative growth and with roles and figures that in the weeks have become specific. We must seek a social pact, a conceptual presentation of the project. That's why, at the staff level, we have a path to reach 3000 signatures. That they have no value because it is just a way of saying "who agrees with this", but in the meantime this allows us to have a credibility. So you can go and see the accounts in place and start a dialogue with the current property. Let's have a voice.

Marco: The pilgrim fathers of the Muybridges are ten people: it is our historical nucleus. Then, in 10 days, we became about 20-25 people. Now there are 50-60 people and we're all people in our 30s and 40s, plus a few under-30s. We do everything online (for us it is a big limit because it is a project that caters to various bands). We reflected on the ability to communicate that could unite the various generations that lived in Livorno. That's why we're having a hard time getting to the older age groups and, for the same reason, we're getting around talking in bars or on the street about our project. We talk head-to-head with people and sum up on 10 people, 9 come on our side. We miss the live component. We could have worked more on the street, I really think we'd have much higher numbers of memberships.

3-There are many clubs with financial difficulties in Italy and they are experiencing or have experienced a similar situation to Livorno Calcio. Do you think it's a model also applicable in other Italian realities (for example, in Palermo Calcio supporters have acquired less than 1%)?

Marco: There is respect for every local reality. Every person who wants to build a trust needs to know who's in front of them. It is not possible for us to have a minority trust because there is not really a majority to relate to. First, those who are now in society must show us that sporting and social engagement is effective. We have a prospect of change. We want more than be just represented. In most cases where there is a minority shareholding (as in the case of Palermo, where the popular shareholding holds 0.45% of the company shares, ed) you receive a content and the interests of the fans are not satisfied. This only happens with a majority or a percentage of odds that allows you to weigh. We respect everyone's choices, but each territory has its own history and reality, and we know ours well. 

4- By the way Livorno is a historic left-wing fanbase. Is it not special for Livorno that a similar gesture should be made in the year of the Centenary of the PCI (Partito Comunista Italiano)? 

Alessandro: This project is how we see the world and we would like to see it in a football club. I can't see the coincidence. We would never dream of exploiting the PCI for such a thing. The Livorno-left bond is a fact and that plays a fundamental role in the planning of the values of this project. More than at the birth of a committee, I see the political origin to the left of Livorno more for the merchandising factor. To tell you, in this sense we also look a lot at the Model of St. Pauli.  Ours is a community that is misized (and it's also right), but the reality is a little different. 

Marco: Livorno has a certain type of social and historical fabric. We do not hide behind a myth, but there is no doubt that Livorno has a certain DNA and that it manifests itself in everyday life. Also sports, football and more. There are so many ways to manifest themselves and the cheering component is a historical phase that belongs to this city. It is not an operation that wants to repeat patterns but transmit values.

5- At nss sports we deal a lot with aesthetics and of course jerseys are the first point of reference. Have you thought about a St Pauli-type model, with the self-production of uniforms in the future?

Alessandro: My dream would be to bring to Livorno Patagonia or at least that idea of brand. Also because for many brands we could be very attractive. We would be a project that appeals to many and for a brand to have the name next to Livorno_popolare, for marketing reasons, we could become desirable.

Marco: Yes, but only in preliminary form, for now; but self-handling would be nice. At least tie yourself to brands that make ethical issues a point of reference. But it would be very nice to self-produce with a brand that allows you to monetize and make numbers that allow you to invest in the sports projects with which we identify. In Lecce, for example, they make jerseys the way they want. Let's say that one day we would like to make this project unique even in the aesthetic line. It's a trend that takes time to be autonomous. We are looking for brands that reflect our vision.

6- Your project is based on communication, on the relationship with the group, on sharing. How do you manage social communication? So what PR project do you have if Livorno_popolare become an effective corporate reality?

Alessandro: Having a manifesto at the base it is clear that everything always returns to that specific value and idealistic field. One of our great satisfactions is that together with the 2500 memberships, there are also the more than 80 requests for collaboration that we have received in recent days. The communication team has had quality requests: we are talking about CVs of people who have worked with Nike and high-level companies. But there are not only local, but proposals and applications from all over Italy, career professionals, pensioners, boys, in short, a lot of stuff. Then we intercept on the territory, but they also come from the economic and sports graphic field that they have made themselves available. 

Marco: In some respects like communication there is a working group of graduates. Livorno_popolare is already a graphic element that has its own impact and meaning. Underscore is a clear vocation that sticks to a series of generational awareness that binds simple things to more complex dynamics. There is an argument behind it that has stopped at a preliminary basis but wants to grow and understand how to grow. Then in the future there will be a rebranding and you will have to redesign and recalibrate the current brand, because you have to communicate to a potential world interest. But it will be a later process, Livorno_popolare already has a graphic-communicative approach that is linked to a certain type of communication on social media. And we want to try to acquire Livorno with this brand, with underscore and everything.