Declining attendances, betting scandals, lack of money, and a fall in world class players are just a few of the issues that Italian footballs biggest league is facing.
When looking at Uefa’s coefficient’s ( a table that ranks the European’s best teams in order based on their performance in their league and European competition) between 1995-2001 Juventus were ranked as Europe’s number one club, while between 2002-2006 Ac Milan topped this chart, but looking at it now Inter Milan (7th) are the only Italian team in the top 10, while Ac Milan are 12th, and Juventus not near the top 20.
Even in the coefficients that rank the leagues in Europe, Seria A is now 4th behind England, Spain, and Germany, meaning that there is only now 3 Champions league spots instead of 4, with France and Russia getting stronger it may even get worse over the next few years.
Remember the time when Seria A football was on terrestrial tv every Sunday, showcasing the worlds best talent such as Zinedine Zidane, Paolo Maldini, and Ronaldo? when teams like Juventus, Ac Milan, Inter, and Lazio were winning the Champions league or Uefa Cup? What has went wrong?
Well one of the main problems is the fans, or should i say the ‘Ultras’ who have plagued the league for years, and are slowly turning the average fan away from games due to an increase in violence.
Who wants to go to a game if they are going to get injured? the lack of police, and control over the fans means its not a risk worth taking.
One look at the attendance figures over the years will highlight this problem, with only 3 teams averaging over 36,000 last season, and if you take Inter Milan for example, they play in the San Siro with a capacity of 80,000, while ten years ago they were averaging a crowd of 62,288 this has steadily dropped and last year was a shocking 47,913.
Many would have hoped that Italy’s success in the Euro’s would have seen the fans flooding back to the stadiums, but even if you take the attendance for Inter Milan v Roma last week, which only pulled in 45,000 shows its a problem that is only going to get worse.
The match fixing scandals over the past few years is another worry, while we all know what happened to Juventus, when they were relegated in 2006, but once again the issue was brought up before this years Euros as another investigation saw the now Juventus manager Antonio Conte banned for 10 months, after failing to report match fixing in two games while he was manager of Siena.
With bosses of the mafia, and Asian betting syndicate’s being linked to the match fixing, it really does put the country in a mess, with several youngsters being brought in by criminal gangs, and players threatened if they do not throw matches.
Bari defender Andrea Masiello admitted he took a payment of 50,000 Euros to score an own goal against Lecce which would see them stay in Seria A, after his house was visited by gangsters who threatened his family.
Its a problem that isn’t going away any time soon, and with the investigations still ongoing there is bound to be more players, and clubs caught up in the scandal.
Half empty stadiums, and fixed matches, have led to clubs being unable to sign the worlds top players, meaning there is no not one of the top 10 highest paid players playing in Italy.
The exodus of Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Silva, from AC Milan to PSG highlights that while other leagues get stronger Seria A gets weaker, and while the league still boasts names such as Andrea Pirlo, Wesley Sneijder, or Edison Cavani, its a far cry from a few years ago when clubs were littered with the greatest talent.
This may be a blessing in disguise for the national team as youngsters will be able to come through the ranks more as the clubs spend less and less, but its not a blessing for owners who want the money that would come with more television coverage.
Fans outside of Italy have started to lose interest in Seria A, and although it was once on terrestrial tv, it has now been overtaken by the Spanish La Liga and the English premier league as everyone’s favourites league to watch, as the number of world class players goes down, so does the viewing figures.
This may be because of the reputation that Italy is a dull league with defences on top and a lack of goals and if you look at the figures it may well be true, as below shows the average goals per game last season for each of the top leagues
Eredivisie- 3.2 goals per game
German Bundesliga- 2.85 goals per game
English Premier league- 2.80 goals per game
Spanish La Liga- 2.7 goals per game
Italian Seria A- 2.5 goals per game
Now lets not forget that we are also in a recession, which has hit Italy hard, with the southern area’s poor the richer northern area’s are starting to join them, meaning football tickets are becoming a luxury, and although some clubs offer tickets for under 20 Euros, families have other things to spend their hard earned money on.
There are a few positives however, while the gap between the big three and the rest of the league has shortened, it gives a chance to teams such as Napoli, Udinese, and Lazio to challenge for the champions league places, meaning its a more competitive league, although Juventus won it unbeaten last year, and look like continuing that after the first few matches of this season.
With Juventus back in the Champions league after a 6 year absence with their new stadium built, and Inter Milan receiving backing from an Asian group to build a new stadium things may be about to improve.
However if Juventus fail in the Champions league along with AC Milan, Seria A may take another hit, and continue its fall into football obscurity.
Camisetas ISLANDIA Entérate de las últimas noticias del fútbol español y europeo. Con las principales novedades de la Liga y la Champions League.