x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Serie A sides need to own their own stadiums

Surreal? These situations certainly are. But Italian football will be vulnerable to them as long it lags behind other major leagues in terms of stadium ownership.

The sight of Lazio celebrating at the Olympic Stadium in Rome may become a thing of the past.
The sight of Lazio celebrating at the Olympic Stadium in Rome may become a thing of the past.

Another week, another row about stadiums. This time it is Lazio, in dispute with the Italian Olympic Committee about the use of Rome's Stadio Olimpico, the arena Lazio and Roma both call "home", in European competition next season.

Having missed a deadline to make a deal with the site's owners, it is possible Lazio will be playing their "home" matches in the next Europa League or Champions League at another venue.

Serie A is already featuring Cagliari's nomad show, the Sardinians playing their home fixtures in distant Trieste.

Why? Because of a row between the club and the local authority about the slow progress in building a stadium to replace the Sant'Elia. Trieste is in Italy's north-east corner, Cagliari in the south of Sardinia.

Surreal? These situations certainly are. But Italian football will be vulnerable to them as long it lags behind other major leagues in terms of stadium ownership.

Most Italian stadiums are not owned by the clubs, but leased. It is a system that is outmoded, and it is costing clubs revenue.

In the last Deloitte survey - a sort of Rich List for European football - AC Milan recorded the lowest stadium-generated revenue of any of the top 10 wealthiest clubs in Europe. Why? San Siro is not theirs.

Which club does own their own ground? Juventus, who have been the pacemakers of the title run-in, a team visibly thriving in their gleaming new arena. Others should waste no more time in following suit.

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