Thursday September 14 2017
Why are Atalanta playing in Reggio-Emilia?

Atalanta make their Europa League bow tonight, but they won’t be facing Everton in their home city of Bergamo.

Instead the Orobici will play their European games close to 200km south in Reggio Emilia, a two-hour journey by car.

Their home stadium, the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia wasn’t given a UEFA licence to hold games, and the website Calcio e Finanza has looked into the reasons.

European football’s governing body didn’t grant a licence as a section of the Ubi Giulio Cesare stand doesn’t have numbered seating.

This wouldn’t be an insurmountable obstacle, as other stadia in Europe without permanent seating put temporary structures in place to comply with UEFA rules.

Celtic Park in Glasgow features so-called “rail seating”, with barriers which contain a locked seat which can fold down like a cinema chair.

For European matches, the club simply unlocks the seats so there is seating provided throughout the stadium.

Similarly, at Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion there are bolt-on seats which can be added to the terrace and then removed, as well as rail seating far up the tribune.

However, while Atalanta now own the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, they’ve faced legal challenges from AlbinoLeffe.

An appeal against the local council selling the stadium to the Orobici was thrown out by administrative regional court, but AlbinoLeffe can still appeal to the Consiglio di Stato.

While that is also likely to be unsuccessful, Atalanta don’t want to begin restoration work on the stadium while there is a possibility, however slight, that they won’t actually own it.

They will therefore play at Sassuolo’s Mapei Stadium, which is already UEFA compliant and held the womens’ Champions League final in 2015-16.

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