BLOG ITALIA
Tuesday October 30 2012
The need for a new calcio

Juventus President Andrea Agnelli is pushing for Italian football to be reformed. David Swan ponders his suggestions.

A Juventus shareholders meeting is an unlikely place to fester unity amongst the Serie A top brass. Yet Juventus President Andrea Agnelli’s opening speech appears to have had a rather surprising effect.

“Juventus supports a reform of professional football, which can no longer be treated the same as grass roots football, a reform of the Leagues, of the number of professional teams, the youth sector, a full reform of the sporting justice, which cannot treat issues affecting clubs worth millions of Euros like minor disputes in provincial football” – just part of his talk on what ventured into a ‘state of Calcio’ address rather than a financial report.

But it resonated with his peers across the League. Lazio President Claudio Lotito tentatively placed himself in the Agnelli camp. “There is a sharing of ideas with Agnelli. We can launch a new era of reforms provided that the interests of the clubs are put at the service of the system.”

His last sentence is key – for far too long Serie A has been fragmented. The respective Presidents are, quite understandably, looking after their own interests first, but it has created an attitude of distrust and resulted in an inability to tackle the important issues affecting Italian football.

Genoa President Enrico Preziosi had it right when he claimed that “the problem with the League is that we are 20 heterogeneous clubs forced together – it is difficult to envisage Genoa thinking like Chievo and Juventus at the same time.”

It is an all too common sight to read, after a gathering of the 20 Presidents at a Lega Serie A event, contrasting opinions as to the way forward – the fiasco over using a club’s fan base to assign a portion of the domestic TV revenue a perfect example.

Agnelli’s appeal for reform, however, seems to have fostered a united front. Preziosi admitted that he was “at the side of Agnelli”, while Parma President Tommaso Ghirardi also expressed a desire for togetherness.

“We must be more united in the League, to clear the field of tensions and to avoid taking decisions that go and damage the smaller clubs,” he said. “I am glad this input comes from an authoritative person like him.”

With that, Ghirardi stumbled upon another crucial factor – it needed a big club to come out with this. It will also need them to follow Lotito’s advice and put their interests at the disposal of others, but that can only be judged much further down the line.

That is not to say there is no ulterior motive for the timing of Agnelli’s remarks. From a business perspective, Juventus are probably the most modern in Italy, and they are certainly the fastest growing within that modern structure.

When he was not pontificating on the state of Italian football, Agnelli was presiding over positive financial news. Revenue grew by 24 per cent, losses were halved compared to the previous year, and an investment of €40m was made to develop property in the surrounding area of Continassa which, in time, will further improve their revenue streams.

But the problem is that Agnelli can see the Italian system is going to hold Juventus from growing further. In his own words: “We can get as far as a certain point, but then it is the system that must grow. Italian football is experiencing a rapid decline, its development blocked by several factors that reflect the crisis in the country.”

This should not take away from the fact that he is right, but at the same time he is still looking out for Juve’s interests.

He did not just spend the time highlighting problems – solutions were put forward too. “We should focus on the sale of foreign TV rights to close the gap with the Premier League. A credible programme of five to eight years should be started with the aim of improving the revenues of Serie A.”

And continuing the theme of harmony and agreement, Ghirardi was thinking along the same lines. “We must take a road that brings more international revenue to our product, maybe bringing our matches to emerging countries such as China, UAE and India.”

It is an interesting trail of thought – most people, such as Pescara President Daniele Sebastiani, recognise the need to develop other sources of revenue from TV rights, but Agnelli knows improving the image of the League abroad improves the product, which will yield greater results elsewhere.

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Have your say...
Many good points from posters like Vito Doria, Daniel Giambrone, Lello, and Mohit. Serie A needs foreign revenue, especially from TV. Postig official highlights on Youtube would be a start. But the quality is not there. That is step one, to put a decent product on the field. Emphasize youth and technique, sign and play young talents from Italy and around the world. Stop signing the 30m 27 year old, start signing the 3m 18 year old. Then everything will fall into place. It's about the product.
on the 2nd November, 2012 at 8:16pm
Following the German system is aa good idea. About TV rights, italian games must have good english commentry to be popular in many parts of the world. The experience of watching an english league game on tv is boosted by commentry that is understandable. I don't speak italian. Only english. And it is a big pain to watch italian football in italian commentry. This is a must.
on the 1st November, 2012 at 6:47am
@Daniel Giambrone

No stress. At least you elaborated more. There are too many negatives in calcio and it's a shame because we can be proud of the positives. For instance, there's the crowd atmosphere. When I went to Italy last year, the die-hard fans know how to create an atmosphere. If the stadiums were in much better shape and attendances increased, we can show the world the great passion there is in the Serie A. Unfortunately this is one small step in the revival or evolution process.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 11:17pm
@ Adam.. My loyalties will never be to Juve or Inter, I'm not a glory supporter. My decision is purely political and not based on Milan's form, I've seen them play worse (remember Oscar Tabarez anybody?) Its hometown loyalty with Nuovo Campobasso Calcio now, Forza Lupi!!

All football needs restructuring, not just Serie A, I would advocate the return to a top two qualification for the champions league to increase competitiveness instead of being rewarded for third or fourth place mediocrity.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 6:11pm
Oh btw as we see yet again the retarded comments on juventus about being cheats are the same reason why this will be harder to reform the league what narrow minded single cell blinkered idiots you are. It could be said that juventus are the only team that have actually been punished and have done the time that numerous other clubs avoided but was guilty of the same crime, juventus are the only team who was instigated out of the bunch that have paid their dues but the single cell life forms seem to over look this because their own teams are flops jelousy and envy will get you no where in life.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 3:14pm
The only thing i would take from the premier league is the way they have tried to make the game more of a family spectacle, you will always have the minor hardcore idiot fan but the ultras in Italy rules the roost at many clubs. My girlfriend is from Milan and after convincing here to go to a live game here in England she was shocked by the contrast in the way the game is over here she wouldn't even contemplate going to a game in Italy because of the ultras.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 3:05pm
Apologies Vito Doria! I've just read your post and found that I have repeated what you have already stated. Never mind, great minds......

Unrelated but how crazy was Gasperini's changes in the second half last night?Kudos to Milan, but Palermo just dropped off and stopped pressing from the front. When are some coaches going to realize that attack is the best form of defence! Even if Brienza was injured, Gasperini should have instructed Giorgi to play close to Micoli, & press the Milan defence.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 1:01pm
Continued, (problems with Italian football). The fear in giving youth an opportunity. We still have things to be proud of: our coaches, players, the atmosphere generated by our fans-despite the low attendances. The football is still entertaining, and competitive, (although our European performances are a constant source of frustration). If we could sort out our deficiencies,(by taking inspiration from how they do things in Germany), we could be truly amazing!
on the 31st October, 2012 at 12:49pm
Giorgio, you raise some good points. I still feel that Serie A is as entertaining and competitive as the other leagues. If you analyse the EPL, you will see that quality really isn't that high,, especially the defending. When you consider how much is spent in England, the quality should be lot higher than it actually is. What lets Italy down is: the stadiums-empty/derelict/cabbage patch pitches, the corruption, behaviour of some of the ultras, crazy/impatient owners, cont..
on the 31st October, 2012 at 12:41pm
@Lello.

I agree. The Bundesliga is a better model for the Serie A to follow.

Back to the blog and I agree with the sentiment. Italian football needs to make serious changes everywhere. The refereeing is poor, the stadiums have aged, attendances are pathetic, there is still too much fear in playing young players and the league has no marketability. There are too many stubborn people involved in Italian football. It's time for changes, presto!
on the 31st October, 2012 at 10:50am
Italian football reflects the state of the country. it is full of selfish underhanded schemers who try to justify there actions while parading with the face of lucifer.

The worst decision ever made in Italian football was to sell its TV rights to Chrysallis who was content on showing 2 minutes of each game.

The key to reviving the game is to start with an even playing field of all clubs, including the distribution of funds from TV rights.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 10:46am
Lello- now you can support Juventus, then when they get poor again go to Inter ;-), agree with the Bundesliga comment good stadiums good fans and good football.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 10:04am
The last thing Italian football needs is to follow the English model. The so called EPL is dominated by foreign influence.Sky sports and rich play boys have skewered the competition to the point of boredom.The English national football team is a joke. Italian football does have its problems but shouldn't sell its soul to the highest bidder.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 9:09am
To those who say Juventus is the most advanced club and that they are the best and bla,bla,bla DO NOT FORGET that they have also been the ones caught as cheaters, they are and will be remember as the team sent to Serie B for their own shame, they institutionalized a network of cheats and privileges no other team could afford. So League reform? Yes, just watch out for a hidden agenda.
on the 31st October, 2012 at 6:31am
I think serie A needs better TV rights.. here in INDIA we don't get to see a lot of serie A matches and also the quality of coverage is low when u compare to EPL..Hope they improve it as quickly as possible, but the most important thing is serie A needs 19 more new stadiums..
on the 31st October, 2012 at 5:43am
I have to watch the Serie A in Australia on RAI and it the worst quality picture, you can hardly see the ball and it costs $20 a month. The Serie A should produce a quality international coverage in english and sell it overseas like the english and germans do, the football in serie a is good, it just looks rubbish on TV. Second they need to update from the stadiums that look like they were bombed in world war 2 and never repaired
on the 31st October, 2012 at 12:36am
Can anyone tell me why is there a running track in virtually every football statium in Italy?? Running is hardly something we excell in!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 11:47pm
Lol @ Bohemian Rhapsody :))
agreed new stadiums & new investment is badly needed with new thinking!!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 11:39pm
Two days ago I made the decision to stop supporting AC Milan after 24 years. I will have nothing more to do with the club run by that now convicted criminal. Serie A does need to change, forget La Liga and EPL. We should follow the Bundesliga's model, affordable tickets, fair TV rights for all clubs, fan representation at board level and a national pride in the success of any club at European level. Changes will not occur in this climate tho and I call on every Milanista to denounce berlusconi!!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 9:14pm
Mikkel is spot on, our stadiums are too far away from the action, also most belong to the councils, if you've noticed English premier league has attracted the kind of players serie used to, since foreign investment came in, lets face it theres no money or the ambition in europe, we need the arabs, russians or asians, before we become the poormans football nation!!!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 8:20pm
Reform is needed starting with the refereeing. They need to be taught better, and perhaps graded. At the end of the year those with passing grades stay, and those that don't get sent down like the clubs that finish in the bottom. FORZA BIANCONERO
on the 30th October, 2012 at 8:16pm
Dear all IMO (for what it's worth) I think that Serie A has to be cleaned and upgraded. I believe that many, if not all teams have made mistakes.. Whether you like Juve or not, don't focus on your dislike of the club, focus on the core objective of Agnelli's words! He wants needed change... for those who claim "That was plenty of time to reform it." Does this mean that Italian football can no longer be changed? So all of us fans must sit and wait for our precious league to die?
on the 30th October, 2012 at 7:08pm
Rubentus is one of the main reasons our league is dirty. Investigate and get rid of the big three northern stripped teams as they are consistently cheating and ruining football. The fact Mr.Bean here wants to come out and talk like this is arrogant and just spitting in the face of football.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 6:51pm
All I can say is that I really hope something comes of this. It's encouraging to hear that a number of Serie A presidents share these sentiments. I just hope they go ahead and start doing something about it. I don't care if the suggestion came from Agnelli – I've got nothing against him, and the truth is Juve are the most advanced club in Italy right now.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 6:44pm
rossonerifido: i agree, lets start by cleaning up berlusconi
on the 30th October, 2012 at 6:01pm
I would love nothing more than to see italy amongst the best leagues in the world again. For Juventus Intermilan Roma + A.C milan to regain there old reputations and attract star players mixed with raw talented italian players from the youth system, to see fiorentina and napoli on a constant basis threating teams like liverpool n man city as they have done in the past, series A must grown, become modern and this is for all series A teams and grow together in the best interest for the league!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 5:30pm
RossineriFido - those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. When you support a club run by the pig that is Berlusconi you have no room to say others are dirty. Not to mention that if the rest of Serie A follows Milan's example Italy will soon be looking up to small leagues like MLS.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 5:18pm
They've been at the top of Italian football's power structure for the last 50 years.

That was plenty of time to reform it.

The only reforms that the lambs would approve of are ones that would allow them to get their claws on even more stolen silverware.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 4:44pm
New Stadiums, that what is needed most.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 4:43pm
New stadiums and taking Europe League serious. Plus selling to foreign owners if they can invest money into the clubs. Juventus earn around 20 mill. more per year because of their new stadium.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 4:24pm

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