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SBD Global/April 29, 2013/International FootballPrint All
Serie A Juventus President Andrea Agnelli has "presided over the club’s return to its habitual place at the top of Italian football" since '10, according to Simon Kuper of the FINANCIAL TIMES. However, the club is not where it wants to be: "at the top in Europe." Juventus "has fallen victim to the problems of Italy itself." Agnelli said, "Is Italian football interesting to watch today? Half the stadiums are empty, there is violence. I mean, it’s not the best product.” Italian football -- "corrupt, beset by violent thugs, economic decline, parochialism and lack of government" -- offers "almost too perfect a metaphor for Italy itself." Like Ferrari or Gucci, or a brilliant corner café, "Juventus is aiming for something very difficult: to be a pocket of excellence in a decaying country." The Agnellis are often called “Italy’s royal family.” Andrea’s great-grandfather Giovanni Agnelli in 1899 co-founded a company called Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, or Fiat. In '23 Giovanni encouraged his son Edoardo to become president of Turin’s football club, Juventus. Agnelli: “The 90 years’ ownership makes us the longest lasting ownership in any sports franchise globally."
THE OLD LADY: Juventus is nicknamed La Vecchia Signora, “the Old Lady,” but Agnelli notes another description: “Juventus is known as ‘the girlfriend of Italy.’ It’s probably the woman everyone wants to be with.” Italian football is not "beautiful any more." As with many things in Italy, former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi "must take some blame." When he was prime minister, "Italy became a country where Berlusconi voters and Berlusconi haters watched Berlusconi’s team Milan thump teams" subsidized by Berlusconi’s government "on Berlusconi’s pay channels, in a league run by Berlusconi’s right-hand man Adriano Galliani, and then watched the highlights on Berlusconi’s free channel." The Premier League, Agnelli says, makes about €2B ($2.61B) a year from TV rights, "about half of that domestic and half foreign." Italian clubs make about €1B ($1.3B), of which almost 90% "is generated inside Italy." Agnelli even envies English advertising boards. Agnelli said, "You are reading messages in Chinese across all Premier League stadiums. ... In football, money determines success. Rather than a final destination for top players, we are now a transit league.” Agnelli said, "Take something as apparently simple as selling replica shirts." British and German fans "flock to buy their team’s new shirt." Agnelli: “In Italy we buy counterfeit shirts. Fake is a problem of this country” (FT, 4/26).
Scottish Premier League clubs will make "a final attempt to have league restructuring in place for next season" on Monday, according to McLaughlin & Spence of the BBC. It appears that "the failed proposal for leagues of 12, 12 and 18 -- and the controversial split of the top two divisions into three sections of eight -- will not be resurrected." Instead, the latest suggestion is "for more end-of-season play-offs" between the top flight and Division One. Should the proposal receive the required 11-1 majority, "it would progress to a vote among the 30 Scottish Football League clubs." However, supporters of the new proposal "are hopeful" that playoffs will be enough to allow other proposals to "also progress." Those proposals include "combining the SPL and SFL into one league body, redistribution of wealth from the top division and a pyramid system into the bottom tier." It appears that there will be "two new proposals considered" -- the idea of playoffs and the alternative of a breakaway second tier of the SPL formed by current Division One clubs (BBC, 4/27).
Bundesliga club SC Freiburg "has found a location for its new stadium" and construction could start as early as '16. The new stadium "will be built in close proximity to the city's airfield." The area "is big enough to build a 35,000-seat stadium" (BADISCHE ZEITUNG, 4/22). ... Fans of Austrian football Bundesliga club Rapid Vienna "showed their frustration of the club's leadership by bricking up the door of the club's office in the night from Friday to Saturday." On top of the brick wall was a picture of club GM Werner Kuhn and the words "I'm not allowed to enter" (KURIER, 4/27). ... South American football governing body CONMEBOL "has launched an investigation into a wild brawl" after a Copa Libertadores match between Chile's Huachipato and Brazil's Gremio earlier this month (XINHUA, 4/27). ... Spanish government officials are looking at changing the law which states that a footballer has to turn 18 before his club offers him a professional contract. The law change would "bring the Spanish into line with a number of other countries and would protect clubs' financial investments in the development of youth players" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 4/26).