On a frosty Monday evening in January, Juventus unveiled a new logo at the Science and Technology Museum in Milan. The slogan of the event was ‘The Future, Tonight’ and hundreds of invited guests toasted the occasion with cocktails created by mixologist Tommaso Cecca, as iconic Italian composer Giorgio Moroder DJ’d.
“I saw the future of music in the 1970s,” Moroder said. “Now, Juventus have seen the future of football.”
Since the 1970s, Juve’s crest has contained a silhouette of a charging bull, the symbol of their home city Turin. The radical redesign - featuring a black and white J styled as a shield - was met with a split reaction on social media. Some hailed the club for staying ahead of the curve; others felt it was a cynical betrayal of tradition.
Explaining the club’s motives for breaking with the norm, president Andrea Agnelli claimed the minimalist creation was 12 months in the making.
“We spent a year trying to find out what the new markets want, but also to show a sense of belonging and looking to the future," he said. "This new logo is a symbol of the Juventus way of living.”
‘The Juventus way of living’ is an interesting take on the position of a football club, which by definition is an association related to a specific interest. A ‘way of living’ suggests something more grandiose and all-consuming.
Sports manufacturers use athletes and sports teams to attract customers to their products, and Juventus are attempting to replicate that model by creating a logo they hope will become as recognisable as Nike’s swoosh or Adidas’ three stripes. They are selling themselves as a lifestyle brand in the mould of those companies and more high-end labels such as Louis Vuitton and Armani.
This is part of a wider strategy by Juve’s hierarchy to capitalise on every potential revenue stream in an increasingly cut-throat market. Work is scheduled for completion next month on the J-Village - a multi-purpose complex comprising of a new training ground, media centre, a hotel and an international school. Vice president and Bianconeri legend Pavel Nedved claimed Juve were “a family that is always thinking ahead.”
Juve’s profits have soared by 125 per cent over the last five years and they are continually at the vanguard of innovation in Italian football. The Juventus Stadium is proof to other Serie A clubs that modernity and ground ownership is essential in the 21st century. Atalanta recently purchased the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, becoming only the fourth side in the division to own their home. The ramshackle, crumbling stadiums Juve’s rivals reside in place them at a distinct disadvantage.
Despite massively increasing turnover, though, Juve still trail Europe’s three superclubs, as well as England’s elite. Serie A’s television contract pales in comparison to the Premier League’s mind-boggling £8 billion deal, depriving them of the huge domestic windfall afforded to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City.
Juve cannot hope to bridge the gap with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich by conventional means, so they have had to think outside the box. But Agnelli also insists that the club must become more mainstream, referencing the Premier League, La Liga and the Bundesliga as their blueprint. “We have to ask ourselves what is the little girl in Shanghai and the millennial in Mexico City thinking?”
Unlike other clubs obsessing primarily over commercial opportunities, Agnelli realises that events on the pitch still dictate the direction off it. Since moving into the Juventus Stadium in 2011, they have won 12 trophies and reached two European Cup finals, doing so due to precise and strategic recruitment. This is a club that has lost Carlos Tevez, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba, Andrea Pirlo and Alvaro Morata, yet they are a stronger team now.
They have mastered the transfer market, reinvesting any money recouped wisely. Juve take their pick of the best talent in Serie A, prising Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic from Napoli and Roma respectively last summer in an approach that mirrors Bayern’s annual asset stripping of their Bundesliga rivals. They have also acquired precocious starlets such as Paulo Dybala, Daniele Rugani, Kingsley Coman and Mattia Caldara before others were fully aware of them. And when signing ageing stars on free transfers – Pirlo, Sami Khedira, Dani Alves – they invariably work out.
Juve’s shrewd business is largely conducted by general manager Beppe Marotta. Marotta was the man responsible for hiring Antonio Conte and later replacing him with Max Allegri. Conte re-established Juve’s domestic stranglehold, dragging them to three titles; former Milan coach Allegri was a deeply unpopular choice to succeed him (some supporters pelted him with eggs on his first day), but it has proved an inspired decision.
“Here winning is the only thing that matters,” Agnelli said in January. “And this season we have to propel ourselves into legend either by winning a sixth straight Scudetto or through Europe.”
The first of those objectives was achieved a fortnight ago, as Juve became the first ever side to win Serie A in six consecutive seasons. Rarely was the outcome in doubt: the Old Lady led from the front as far back as September.
Now they turn their focus to Cardiff and the Champions League final. 10 years ago they were earning promotion from Serie B, after the Calciopoli scandal forced them to spend a season in the second division.
A decade on, they are one win away from the summit of European football. Win or lose, though, Juventus are a force again and will remain so for the foreseeable future.