Exclusive: Como 1907 reveal plans to build club from ground up like Atalanta

The Indonesian owners of Serie B side Como insist they are not using the club to propel players from their own country, as explained in an exclusive interview with TribalFootball.com.

SENT, entertainment branch of Indonesian tobacco giants Djarum Group, purchased the club in 2019 and have helped oversee their rise from Serie D to the Italian second-flight.

Indonesia’s national team has a limited number of players competing outside the country, most notably Ipswich Town’s Elkan Baggott and Pratama Arhan of Tokyo Verdy

According to Mirwan Suwarso, official representative of Mola TV, owner of Como, the club are not stressed about EU laws prohibiting them from employing overseas players.

“We can’t, they are not EU,” Suwarso told TribalFootball.com. “In Serie B we are only allowed to employ players from European Union and it is fine with us, I mean our decision to work in Como it is not a way to propel Indonesian football, it’s probably hopeless. We are trying to create a business that is sustainable.”

That isn’t to say Como are not looking to develop from the ground-up.

Mola TV have created a youth academy called Garuda Select which competes in England. The initiative sees a number of foreign players given the opportunity to play in the UK. This week the Garuda Select XI drew with Southampton, one of England’s most renowned academies.

Surwaso explains: “Primavera is important to us, as you know we have a Youth Academy in England, called Garuda Select, where we bring 20 players from Indonesia, 4 from Africa, 3 from Italy and now we just added one from England.

“I think it’s a very good experience for young players to learn and the Garuda project has become an excellent project even for Como. Last year we had two players from the Academy to join us, one of them then joined the first team even though he was only 17 years old, his name is Elia di Giuliomaria.

“This year we have three in there, two are performing very very well, unfortunately one just hurt his knee but the other one we picked up from Novara I’m sure now Como will sign him, he is a right back. He’s been he’s been very good for us.”

Indeed, Surwaso adds that Como want to build their own academy and hopefully become a self-sufficient club just like top-flight side Atalanta.

“They are only 16, but having this Academy in Englad creates this pass for this Italian guys that can learn things that they would not have learned in Italy. I’m sure Charlie Ludi will pick them up and put them into our system, because right now we’re just starting our Academy from scratch. If I’m not mistaken just having the facilities, because before when the club in Serie D the Academy was given to someone else.

“Now we’re just bringing everything back in house and we’re trying to do the scouting from scratch, everything from zero. Our dream is to be like Atalanta. We’d like to develop a lot players and we don’t have to sell them, we can keep them.

“Like Zaniolo…What will he do? Is he going to Juventus? Let’s see what happens, he has two years contracts, now either signs an extension or he goes away, I don’t actually know what will happen…why? In Italy every club is the feeder club for Juventus (he laughs, nda).”

Central to Mola’s involvement in England is Como’s director of football – and Chelsea legend – Dennis Wise.

The idea of foreign ownership getting involved with experienced football heads has not been lost on Surwaso, who says Como followed the same logic as Roma and Inter Milan.

He said: “I know [former owner and chairman of Inter Milan] Erick Thohir, he’s the one who actually introduced us to Italian football, they introduced me to Michael Gandler at the time he was the revenue officer over at Inter and then so we asked him to help us out at Como initially.

“So yeah, we know from him but we also I think the opportunity for us is that when we came here we were not fan, so we didn’t come in with an emotional position, we came in from a business position, but we understand in order for a business to succeed then the relationship has to be not just about money and just about football, but it has to be about people, it has to be about everybody in the community, in the city and that is why we’re building it this way. We have to grow together. We call it a triangle and everybody has to move in unison. We won’t succeed by doing it one by one.”

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