Italian clubs need own stadiums to flourish
Milan: Italian clubs will continue lagging behind their English and Spanish counterparts until they own their stadiums says Cesena`s Igor Campedelli, one of Serie A`s most progressive club presidents.
The 37-year-old has overseen the unfashionable club`s rise into Serie A from the third division but is worried that, like most Italian clubs, they will struggle to grow further without a home they can call their own.
"The most important thing for developing the clubs in Italy is that we have our own stadiums," Campedelli said. "Like everyone else in Italy, Cesena uses a public stadium. Juventus are the ones who have their own."
The Sea Horses have done what they can, laying a one million euro ($1.4 million) artificial pitch which Campedelli said will ensure better playing conditions. They are also planning to install large screens and attract more families.
But this does not go far enough, according to Campedelli.
"We hope we can have multi-purpose stadiums that we can use for other events, for concerts, for public events, not just for football matches," he said. "But for this we depend on government action."
The Italian stadium issue is something of a vicious circle as clubs cannot afford to build or buy stadiums in their current financial situation.
Yet, without their own stadiums, Campedelli said their finances are unlikely to improve.
Italy`s failed bids to host the 2012 and 2016 European Championships meant investment to modernise stadiums was not forthcoming, meaning there has been little improvement in the infrastructure since the 1990 World Cup finals.
Until recently, Milan`s San Siro did not even have wireless internet in the media room, leaving it behind many stadiums in developing nations, because neither host clubs Inter nor AC Milan wanted to take on the responsibility.
The Italian rugby federation installed it when the San Siro hosted a test match against the All Blacks in 2009 -- but it was switched off immediately afterwards.
Campedelli bought a 51 percent stake in Cesena in 2007 when the club was in the second division.
Shortly afterwards they were relegated but then won consecutive promotions and are now preparing for their second successive season in Serie A.
"The first aim is survival, that`s the important thing, after that we can dream a bit," Campedelli said about the prospects for the coming season when Marco Giampaolo will replace Massimo Ficcadenti as coach.
Cesena, 15th last season after a campaign which included a memorable win over eventual champions AC Milan, have boldly signed controversial Romanian forward Adrian Mutu and added Brazilian Eder Citadin Martins to give them more creativity.
Campedelli has already caused a stir by confronting the Ultras last February when they demanded that he fire Ficcadenti.
The president threatened to pull out of the club and "leave it in the state I found it in."
Generally, though, he has avoided the temptation to make outlandish promises.
"We need time to consolidate but we have time, we are young, we can get to the same stage as Udinese," he said, referring to another less fashionable side who last season qualified for the Champions League qualifiers.
"We need at least four or five years."