While the year 2016 has been, to put it mildly, an unmitigated disaster for Inter as far as matters on the pitch are concerned, you still get the feeling that we will look back on it in the not-too-distant future as one of the single most important years in the club's 108-year history. It would be fair to say that the first six months of the Suning era have not exactly gone to plan - in fact, it would probably be generous to phrase it like that - but nonetheless there is good reason to believe that these current troubles will turn out to be nothing more than teething problems and that soon enough the fortunes of our club will change for the better. At the base of such optimism are announcements like the one Inter made on Tuesday afternoon, via a lengthy official statement on the club's website.
"F.C. Internazionale today announced a multi-year sponsorship agreement for a package of naming rights to include the training centre at Appiano Gentile", it reads. "Effective immediately, Inter's first team training centre will now become known as The Suning Training Centre in memory of Angelo Moratti. Also included as part of the package are the naming rights for the Club's youth team training centre, commonly known as 'Interello', which will now be known as The Suning Youth Development Centre in memory of Giacinto Facchetti. The final part of the agreement concerns the rights as the Official Training Apparel Partner for both the senior and youth (Primavera) teams. This package has been taken up by Suning.com, a major on-line shopping portal in China."
Presenting this new partnership in person were Chief Communications Officer Robert Faulkner and and Chief Revenue Officer Michael Gandler, who appeared in front of journalists before Stefano Pioli carried out his normal press conference in the build-up to Wednesday's important match at home to Lazio. "This is a very important day for Inter as a football club", said Gandler, "[as] there has been significant change around Appiano Gentile. Suning.com and Suning Sports will be the featured brand on all of our training apparel and training activities, while the training ground takes the name of the Suning Training Centre in memory of Angelo Moratti. It's very important to respect the history and heritage of the club and the importance of the Moratti family."
That last sentence in particular should be music to the ears of many Interisti, as some supporters have expressed concerns in recent months about the club losing some of its heart and soul under its new overseas owners. On the contrary, the adherence to tradition seemed to be one of the key messages the club wanted to get across during this news conference, as Gandler later went on to play down rumors that Inter might be looking either to leave San Siro or replace title shirt sponsor Pirelli, which together have written some of the most important pages in the club's history.
On the prospect of moving to another stadium in the near future, he was fairly clear: "Inter's intention has always been and continues to be to stay at San Siro. The ownership has committed to investing in San Siro and building a more modern San Siro; something that has the types of benefits and facilities that fans today expect from a football club. Obviously there are challenges and complications along the way, but San Siro is our home." As far as Pirelli is concerned, meanwhile, he clarified that this new deal only applies to the players' training kits and not their match-day shirts: "We have a multi-year partnership with Pirelli, which is one of the longest in the history of professional football for playing jerseys. We're incredibly enthusiastic about the partnership we have - Pirelli is one of the premier global brands and is prestigious in every regard."
If you'd like to see what our renamed, spruced up training facilities look like, a photo gallery is available here on the Inter website. The hope is that Tuesday's announcement is another step towards a blindingly bright future under Suning's leadership. Facci sognare, as they say...