Saturday, 24 February 2007

Clubs count Stadiopoli cost

Lega Calcio chief Antonio Matarrese has warned the cost of the new safety regulations are "catastrophic" on clubs and could bankrupt some by the end of the season.

All sides in Italy must prove their financial stability before they are allowed to register for Serie A, B or C, but with many stadiums closed to fans during expensive restructuring work to achieve the new legal standards, we could see many failing to make the grade.

"The situation is catastrophic," said Matarrese. "We have to do something to limit the damage, otherwise how are we going to start next season?"

The stadiums are slowly returning to normal, with most at least allowing season ticket holders in this weekend, although that vastly reduces the takings from a normal gate.

"For now we have secured the rights of the season ticket holders in most arenas, but there is a long way to go yet.

"I have set up a commission to investigate the situation and I am waiting for a detailed report on the financial balances before I decide what to do next. We are facing clubs that have advanced millions of Euros to fix the stadiums and the consequences on their finances are disastrous, causing serious alterations."

The Lega Calcio is lodging an appeal to have the usual financial checks and balances changed for this summer to avoid too many bankruptcies.

There were fears of another legal battle, as the clubs have threatened to sue the local councils – who own the stadiums – for the cost of the renovations. In turn, the councils warned they could turn to the State for compensation if they were charged for the building work.

"It is a very complex and difficult situation," added Matarrese. "The refusal to play more than one evening game per day has terrible repercussions on the whole football system, including the pay-per-view television companies who have so far been very supportive. Thankfully they haven’t sued us for damages as well."

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