Monday May 19 2014
‘Italy can be positive surprise’

Maurizio Beretta has discussed Italy’s World Cup hopes, the possibility of downsizing Serie A and the new financial front clubs face.

The Azzurri’s provisional squad for this summer’s tournament will meet up today to begin preparations and they have received the backing of the Lega Calcio’s President.

“The Azzurri has always had the capacity in which to surprise everyone,” Beretta has commented today on Radio Anch’io Sport.

“We have a good chance of having a positive surprise.”

Whilst perhaps drawing up his World Cup wall chart, Beretta soon found himself discussing League matters, including the suggestion that Serie A could be cut back to 18 clubs in the future.

“Never say never, it certainly is an hypothesis from which we are starting to work.

“The mechanism of reform involves the relationships between the various leagues, with a pattern of promotions and relegations that must be integral to the League.

“It is a time for dedicated reflection, I hope that we can make it work.”

This season’s title race was dominated by Juventus, who secured a new record points tally of 102.

“It has been an extraordinary season for Juventus, the idea of a multi-year project and a strong determination have paid off, as well as ownership of their stadium.

“As it happens in other Leagues, there has been a gap to the pursuers, but it must be remembers that the race for sixth place was only decided in the last minute.

“I believe that the League, which is certainly divided into blocks, has maintained its charm.”

Clubs’ current television deal has another year to run, but speculation has already centred on intentions to sell the rights for 2015-16 through to 2020-21 in one large up-front fee guaranteeing between €900m and €930m a year.

“I cannot answer this, we are under obligation of confidentiality. The so-called ‘pot’ was a great success, and mostly viewers have increased.

“Would we follow the Spanish model [where clubs individually negotiate rights]? With all the respect I have for Spain, the TV rights are an essential item.

“Whilst they own their own grounds, there are advantages from our points of view.

“Atletico Madrid have gone to the top of European football, but in reality we often talk about Barcelona and Real Madrid, who have very high turnovers.”

Beretta was asked about links Serie A sides like Milan have had with foreign investment, to follow on from Roma and Inter’s example.

“We often read that there is interest in our clubs, this is a factor to be reckoned with. There are some specific problems, the issues with the stadiums and it does not help our football.

“There is strong interest in Italian football, but the time of the Presidents, following every need of the fans, is coming to an end.

“Today, investors are different, you must have sporting success but also balance it with economic management.

“The idea of bringing economic stability overall to the football system is positive.”