NEWS
Monday March 21 2016
Bolingbroke: ‘Serie A must change’

Inter chief executive Michael Bolingbroke calls on Serie A to be more open to global markets.

The Nerazzurri chief believes the Italian top-flight should have earlier kick-off times in order to appeal to the vast Asian market, as well as improving stadiums.

“The League in Italy is slipping and it needs to make some changes,” Bolingbroke told the BBC.

“It is not an accident the Premier League is doing as well as it is. It has taken years of planning. When you see a Premier League game, every seat is sold.

“The lighting is better. The grass is greener. It is one of those products you see on TV and say 'I wish I was there’.

“When you see a match and the stadiums are half empty it doesn't have the same appeal.

“Inter has 265 million fans, and 190 million of those are in Asia. So we have to broadcast matches at a time when they want to see the games.

“So if we broadcast matches at 20.45 in the evening, it’s the middle of the night in Asia so we miss 75 per cent of our fanbase.

“Decisions like that need to be discussed at the League. People want to see matches live. That is the excitement of football. It is not much good when the game is shown at 03:00.

“Inter is built on an extraordinary heritage. We are probably one of the top 10 football clubs in the world from a brand perspective.

“I would like to see Inter in a position in the Deloitte [money league] table that reflects its position in the brand table.

"That would mean we were back playing Champions League football on a consistent basis, that we were filling a renovated San Siro, that we were pulling in audiences across the world, which would mean kick-off times had been moved and we would be playing in the afternoon. That would be a great legacy.

“San Siro? In the UK, most stadiums are owned by the clubs so if the owner wants to invest in it, they can.

“In Italy it is slightly different. Most of the stadiums are owned by the local councils, so they need to see the business case for doing the refurbishment.

“That makes it more complicated. The Italian economy has gone through difficult times in recent years as well, so money has been prioritised in other areas.

“But there is an understanding that investment is needed. As a League, we need to prioritise that.”

Bolingbroke also discussed the idea of a ‘wildcard’ entry to the Champions League, to allow clubs such as Inter or Manchester United to qualify if they don’t make it through League position.

“The TV income distribution here is based on performance not just in the last year but the last five and last 50. There is merit in that.

“There are clubs who have not got to the competitions they think they need to. Many of these clubs have huge fan bases.

“That drives Uefa and drives revenues.

“The question is: do you need to find a balance between that and having the clubs in the competition that have performed well in the last 12 months?

“The conversations we have had with Uefa indicate to me that they fully understand what the concerns are and are going to address them.”

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