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Tuesday November 27 2012
How to reform Italian football…

Various club Presidents have ideas to restructure the Italian game. David Swan puts some of their suggestions under the microscope.

Saturday’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport featured a report that asked a number of Serie A Presidents and owners to offer three ideas each that they would like to see implemented in Italian football, in a week where FIGC President Giancarlo Abete stated his desire to see Serie A return to 18 teams. Here, we analyse some of the more interesting options and their viability.

Introduce B teams into the professional system (Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle)

A call that you hear often in England has started to seep through to Italy, possibly due to the success of Spain, where this has been present for years.

Della Valle’s reasoning was that B teams would be made up primarily of young players and allow them a greater chance of growing by playing against pros and not youngsters of the same age.

A large part of the feeling on this will depend on the extent to which you believe youth football in Italy ‘works’. Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli now has a number of young players to pick from across the squad, many of whom, though not all, started in the youth teams of Serie A clubs, so the system is not all bad.

The Lega Pro may hold the key to this being introduced at any point in the future. The third tier of Italian football has just been reduced to 60 teams due to so many clubs struggling to stay afloat financially, but Lazio President Claudio Lotito openly pondered whether there were 60 teams that could maintain competitiveness over a season. If he turns out to be right, and if more struggle to keep their position, the option of B teams filling the spaces could become viable.

Introduce UEFA’s Financial Fair Play into Serie A (Andrea Della Valle and Torino President Urbano Cairo)

The two who suggested this felt it was a necessary step to balance the League. The glaring problem is that while it will give many teams a greater chance of competing near the top, it will place the top clubs competing in Europe at a competitive disadvantage relative to the rest – not something Serie A needs at the moment.

It represents a conflict for both the FIGC and the Lega. They would probably love a competitive and balanced League, but if it comes to the detriment of Italy on the European stage then it is difficult to see how this would help in the long-term.

Reduce Serie A and Serie B to 18 teams (Lazio President Claudio Lotito)

An increasingly popular idea, with backing from the very top after Abete expressed his wish to see Serie A reduced to 18 teams.

Parma President Tommaso Ghirardi suggested something similar, though his idea was to keep Serie A at 20 teams and reduce Serie B to 20, from 22.

Just by looking at Ghirardi's counter-suggestion, you can see this is going to be difficult to pass. Clubs unsure of their Serie A status on a yearly basis, or who could get drawn into trouble, are going to fight a reduction at the top level that limits the number of opportunities to generate more revenue from a presence in Italy's best League.

But the biggest issue with the idea in the short-term is the new TV deal. Sky have paid a lot of money to show every single Serie A game live for the next three seasons and a reduction in the number of teams means fewer games for TV.

As such, do not expect to see this implemented until after 2014-15. But with the backing of the man at the top, and a number of Presidents, there is a very good chance of change occurring within both Serie A, from 2015 onwards, and Serie B.

Stop broadcasting every match on TV (Urbano Cairo)

Often ignored as one of the reasons for the bad attendances in Serie A, with the focus instead on the quality of the stadia. The fact is that, leaving the stadia aside, fans in Italy do not actually need to go to a ground to watch football. With every match screened live they only need to find a bar showing it or take out a subscription themselves.

Cairo referenced the "English model", but did not specify whether he wanted a protected kick-off time, as England has with the traditional Saturday 3pm matches.

Again, this comes back to the TV deal. Protecting kick-off times like the Premier League will undoubtedly see Sky substantially reduce the amount they pay to screen Serie A matches. What they offer now is crucial in keeping some clubs in business – both in Serie A and below thanks to the parachute payments and mutuality agreement that filters down to Lega Pro and the amateurs in Serie D – and a reduction in that could hit them hard financially.

With the stadia owned by local councils, driving fans towards the ground is not going to make up for the loss of TV revenue. Once the clubs have done the maths, it is unlikely many of them will be in favour of this.

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Have your say...
I'd go further and return to the 16 team Serie A, that the league had between 1967 and 1988. This format served the league well. The league was more competitive during this period, with no fewer than 10 different scudetto winners. And it was also during this period that Serie A was at its most attractive to the world's best players, as they were tempted by a schedule that was not overbearing, and encouraged them to perform at their best on a regular basis.
on the 30th November, 2012 at 12:35am
Stadiums need to be club owned & rebuilt to modern standards.

Ultras are a disease & need to be put in their place.

B Teams should be competing in the lower leagues so to fast track stars of the future.

Personally I'd also like to see the U21s regularly take on the full team instead of playing pointless Z list friendlies. They will gain experience and maybe one or two can show that they have what it takes to step up a grade, plus I think it would keep the senior players on their toes more.
on the 29th November, 2012 at 10:35am
for me, I think the italian clubs should be allowed to build new stadium, lega & figc might want to help them too, just local council are always rejecting...
on the 29th November, 2012 at 5:13am
To me, B teams is far and away the best option. Also, tape delaying some games to increase attendance could make sense. But in the end it all lies in stadiums. Build smaller stadiums that have great atmosphere and every seat is good
on the 28th November, 2012 at 8:11pm
All talk should start and end with building new stadiums.
on the 28th November, 2012 at 6:20pm
The NFL has one thing right when it comes to TV and that is if a game does not reach a certain capacity then it is blacked-out in that area. That encourages the locals to go to the games.
on the 28th November, 2012 at 5:35pm
Off all the ideas I can see the the one that is realistic and that is b teams that will sorle be great chance for the young players to have a chanse in the b teams and then to play for the A team the model in spain works real barsa villareal etc. They all have a great second team all barsa players have past the B team when they play for the A team the have maches in their feet that is a model to falow
on the 28th November, 2012 at 3:18pm
You can't blame the lack of people going to stadiums, when you have Caressa, Boban, Bergomi all on the TV at the same time... They are legends!
on the 28th November, 2012 at 8:12am
can't you argue for a system of approaches i admit the sky italia package needs to offer a little bit less in order to get people into the stadia however bad security and a lack of disposable income add to these factors other than updating the stadiums maybe consider bringing in more international fans as well as family tickets. in addition encourage serie b sides with cash amounts to use younger players cut down the promo spaces to 2. lastly allow more new money to come into the league.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 9:32pm
18 team serie A would be good...
instead of stopping the entire telecast of a match on TV, a better option would be to prevent a live telecast
the same match can be aired after on-field full time
this would help, atleast lower rung sides to fill up their stadiums...
and a very effective way of promotion of Serie A can be encouragement to top sides to regularly visit emerging footballing markets like India, China, Far East & Mid East during summer & new year breaks...
whats your views on these ?
on the 27th November, 2012 at 8:13pm
The real problem is the europa league has too much emphasis on coefficient and not enough financial gain to be acheived from clubs. Hence why Italian teams scrifice the tournament for league aspirations and possible UCL qualification. UEFA just need to reward teams that excell to semi-final spots with UCL places. Then the competition will regain its prestige of yesteryear and Italian clubs will put resources into it, thus Improving our league standard and reputation.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 8:10pm
Bert, I believe they are referring to showing all the matches in Italy and not talking about international tv.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 7:20pm
Every game should be on TV! Not only is it a cash cow, it's how you grow and make your game popular. I'm a Juventus fan living in Minnestoa. Sorry, but TV is the only way I can support my club, besides purchasing merchandise.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 5:22pm
All valid and good points, 18 teams like the bundesliga will be much better gives the teams a chance to have 4 games less which could be better for teams in europe, I was unaware that all games were shown live that would be magic for fans and rightfully so, stay in and have a few beers! they should get rid of that to get the tickets selling more, To change the italian football tho is simple...owners should sell to the rich people like in England more money more players..look at PSG,
on the 27th November, 2012 at 5:05pm
and ban the 5-3-2 so many teams are playing.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 2:32pm
Stop broadcasting every match on TV would be utter madness. This is what promotes Serie A and the clubs earn more money that way than by tickets which are cheap compared to other big leagues. Juve are the leading example. A decent stadium and people go there...
on the 27th November, 2012 at 2:00pm
I think 18 teams would be good because teams competing in Europe would be more fresh to compete on both fronts. Another good idea is to introduce B teams even though the trend today is to give more chance to youth. Another kind of reform should be done on the field, I think serieA needs to find measures to increase the ball play time and lessen time wasting, this doesnt have to abandon the tactical aspects but refs should urge play to keep going on.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 1:41pm
How about a 'home-grown' quotient requirement? It would encourage teams to nuture and play youth team players and also help with transfer expenditure. Also, every fan loves a local lad.
on the 27th November, 2012 at 1:12pm

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