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.

Have your say...
Galliani wanted to do this for years, and when he was president of the Lega was making positive steps, but stupid clubs opposed him. Now Agnelli says the same things and its gospel? Ridiculous...
on the 30th October, 2012 at 3:20pm
I'll just take the sporting justice here. What happened to Conte this year is just a scandal in itself including raiding his home and placing him in the stands.

Also, I will never ever forgot how the police raided Crisito room and took him as he was a type of a serial killer! Then, he was cleared as nothing happened to him.

I hope Agnelli is putting a start for something beneficial.

Better yet, this what makes Calcio different other than other european leagues, I guess.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 3:20pm
Well said RossoneriFido! You showed at once why this will never work. Because Italian Presidents are just as narrow minded as you seem to be. Men like Berlusconi, Moratti and De Laurentis would never accept a proposal that Agnelli has crafted. Not even if it benefitted them greatly, this would be to accept that Agnelli has a point. They are too stubborn and childish for that. And No I'm not a Juventini. /Roma supporter with high hopes but low expectations for Serie A's future
on the 30th October, 2012 at 3:15pm
Best news I've hearn a long time, serie A needs to act quickly as its lagging behind English, Spanish and now German & French leagues have woken up! but dare I say it? it will probably discussed & discussed without any action been taken
on the 30th October, 2012 at 3:15pm
seria A should target India..calcio is absolutely loved by many people here..and juventus have a massive fan base
but not even merchandise is available here ..except AC milan ..and that too only sometimes
on the 30th October, 2012 at 3:14pm
and this isnt about Juve! its about Serie A and italian football the day they stop destroying their game from within is the ONLY!! way they will move forward, corrupt systems and backwards thinking have led to this decline and other factors now as in finance! but that jelousy n hatred goes too far in Italy NEVER! would u see a Barca, madrid Man UTD Bayern destroyed by their own as they have too much pride as a nation & people in their own! till that changes Serie will never get back to that lvl
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:55pm
@ RossoneriFido..whats ur point?! Juve have not done anything NOONE else didnt yet got punished! we are clean, as always we set the standard the rest follow and they better follow dam quick as its only now they have realised the model used by Juve is the best way forward even though i would have moved the base to attract more fans to the stadium with a capacity of 60,000!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:51pm
More revenue from TV rights? Just ask Al-Jazeera Sports Media who just bought La Liga and Serie A TV rights from Fox Sports and GolTV in the US. Less availability for viewers = less revenue.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:38pm
I agree with just about every propostion Agnelli put forward. But it's unlikely that Berlusconi, Moratti et al will support his suggestions - the motto being "we are fine as we are". Next coutries in line to surpass Italy: Portugal, France and Russia.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:10pm
@rossonerifido.. Speaketh thee who has been involved in betting allegations since the 80's "Totonero".
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:09pm
@Giorgio as you say Italian football has fallen behind Spain and England , well they have as many Champions league wins as the mighty EPL.And the national team has reached as many major International tournament finals since 2000 , it's not as bad as made out to be sure things can change but when you look at results it hasn't fallen way behind as you put it.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:08pm
Serie A lacks credibility on an international stage. Want to clean up the sport? Found a new calcio without Juventus. Then maybe it will have the same marketability as EPL/La Liga
on the 30th October, 2012 at 2:02pm
In order for foreign TV rights to be worth any capital whatsoever, the style of Italian football itself needs to change.
Italian football was not so long ago regarded as the best in Europe and over the last decade it has fallen well behind the Premier League, La Liga and now the Bundesliga. Pundits in England are only now beginning to celebrate the style of football being played by Napoli and Juventus, more teams should follow suit.
How else can Serie A appeal to football fans worldwide?
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:46pm
Hopefully the Serie A presidents will unite just for once to create a better Serie A! It's in everybody's interest to have a good league, go for it Agnelli and all other presidents! Bring Serie A back to greatness!
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:43pm
In order to clean your house you need to clean yourself first.
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:36pm
on the 30th October, 2012 at 1:32pm

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