Fiat Chrysler workers at the Melfi plant in Italy decided to strike after hearing that its main investors had agreed to support a deal worth £99.2m (€112m) to bring former Real Madrid star striker Cristiano Ronaldo to play at Juventus.
Captain of the Portuguese team, Ronaldo was born on the island of Madeira off the north-west coast of Africa, where the local airport is named in his honour. One of Real Madrid’s famed ‘Galacticos’, the star forward has enjoyed a glittering career, scoring 450 goals in 438 appearances. In the 2018 World Cup, Ronaldo netted four goals which included a superb hat-trick against a strong Spanish team. His efforts played a major role in seeing Portugal through to the last 16 knockout stage of the tournament.
A Smart Move?
Ronaldo shirts were very soon on sale in Turin, the Italian home of Juventus. However, some in the football world have questioned the wisdom of paying so much for a forward who is now 33 years old – after all, £99.2m is a figure you won’t reach even winning a casino online pot 33 consecutive times. But Rob Wilson, a football finance expert from Sheffield Hallam University, believes Juventus will more than recoup their outlay, saying: “The marketing leverage that Juventus will be able to create will be significant. Added to that the likelihood that he will strengthen the team, it seems plausible that they will be more successful domestically and qualify routinely for the Champions League. That means more sponsors, more TV money and more prize money.”
Owners of Turin-based Juventus for over 90 years, the Agnelli family also have a controlling interest in Ferrari NV and Fiat Chrysler through their holding company, Exor NV, which in turn holds a 64 per cent stake in Juventus FC. The iconic Juventus black-and-white strip is adorned with the Fiat-Chrysler Jeep logo, and analysts foresee the Ronaldo transfer could soon represent very good business for all concerned. According to Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group Inc., if Ronaldo can get Juventus to the European Champions League final, then just one years’ media exposure could be worth somewhere around $58.3 million.
Fiat Chrysler Defer Investment Plans
However, the USB union at the Melfi plant in southern Italy quickly called for strike action claiming the transfer decision effectively meant Fiat would be missing out on vital investment. Branding such corporate behaviour “unacceptable” at a time when Fiat Chrysler workers were making “huge economic sacrifices”, the union said: “We’re all employees of the same owner, but in such a period of enormous social difficulty this difference in treatment cannot and must not be accepted. The company should invest in car models that guarantee the futures of thousands of people, rather than enriching only one.”
Italy’s Fiat workers have had to live with the prospect of temporary layoffs for a few years. But a much-anticipated scheme intended to return Italian car plants to full production, which was initially scheduled for this year, has now been delayed. This strategic plan, announced by Fiat in June, detailed a move to change its production of diesel engine to hybrids and electric motors. This was due to be accompanied by a significant shift of focus with the future output of its Italian factories dedicated solely to luxury cars.