Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Now that he’s back running the country, Silvio Berlusconi feels it is his duty to tell football how to get its house in order.
The media mogul, who has stepped down as AC Milan president so he can get on with being prime minister, believes that the major clubs in Italy should never have to play small provincial teams.
In the perma-tanned 71-year-old’s world it would be Milan against Inter and Roma against Juventus every other week while the likes of Parma, Livorno, Catania and Reggina would slum it in their own village league. As far as the billionaire is concerned, why invest so much on a star-studded side and then have them lose at some decrepit ground such as Siena or, God forbid, Catania, where his Rossoneri side were knocked out of the Italian Cup earlier in the season?
Please, sir... Catania's Vargas celebrates a goal against Milan
Part of the problem for Berlusconi would seem to be his own side’s fall from grace this season. Apart from Ricky Kaka and Alexandre Pato, Carlo Ancelotti’s men aren’t the draw they used to be; most fans have seen it all before from a side with a combined age of around 300 years.
The former European champions have failed to pull in record crowds in any of their away games, while 10 teams have filled their grounds as never before for a visit from Juventus and four for defending champions Inter. In fact, just over 9,000 attended Milan’s league game at Empoli, who also happened to pull in the lowest crowd of the season when a paltry 5,275 witnessed the Tuscans against Cagliari.
So you can see what Berlusconi is getting at. Milan are still the best-supported at home, with an average attendance of 54,624 against an overall league average of 23,526 – and the derby game was a 78,000 full house.
Then, of course, there are his far-reaching media interests. He also has a company that is involved in selling the TV rights for the big four. In the end, there would only be one winner and that’s the cheeky little guy with an opinion on everything.
Needless to say fans up and down the country are totally against the idea and in a La Gazzetta dello Sport online poll 70% of them gave the Super League concept the thumbs down. This will count for nothing, however, as there have been strong calls to reduce the Serie A back to its pre-2004 number of 18 clubs. That would be the obvious answer to ensure that the whole country gets to see the best teams – including Catania.
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