ROME - It may not rank among the world's
largest football arenas but Juventus's new stadium could herald
a renaissance for the Old Lady of Italian football, the club's
chief executive said.
The Juventus Arena, which hosted its first Serie A match on
Sunday when Parma visited, has a capacity of just 41,000, a figure
which pales in comparison to the grounds of rivals Milan/Inter
(80,000), Barcelona (99,000), Manchester United (76,000) and
Bayern Munich (70,000).
But Aldo Mazzia, the man recently entrusted with boosting
the once mighty club's fortunes following the after-effects of a
2006 match-fixing scandal, reckons size is not everything as
Juve become the only Italian club to own their own ground.
"We believe that it's better to have a stadium that's a bit
smaller but almost always full and closer to the team than to
have a much bigger one that only gets sold out for a few games,"
he told Reuters in an interview.
Juventus, who have traditionally gained country-wide support
from migrants working in Turin for their sister company Fiat,
hated their old Stadio Delle Alpi home (69,000 capacity) because
of a lack of atmosphere caused by a running track and empty
Since 2006 Italy's best supported and most successful
domestic club have shared the Stadio Olimpico with Torino and
their new ground, which has yet to be given an official name
despite a long search for a sponsor, has been built on the site
of the Delle Alpi.
"The Stadio Olimpico has a 25,000 capacity and a very
limited number of premium seats," said Mazzia, who replaced
Jean-Claude Blanc as CEO in May after succeeding Michele Bergero
as chief financial officer a month earlier.
"Stadium revenues for last season were 11.5 million euros of which 9.8 million euros came through
ticketing and 1.7 million euros for other services, an amount
that was around 7.5 percent of total revenue.
"The new stadium offers a completely different scenario.
Among the 41,000 there are around 4,000 premium seats. There
will be great views because there is no track and fans are close
to the pitch (7.5 metres) creating a special atmosphere.
"Stadium facilities will be open seven days a week and there
will also be plenty on offer for fans, families and companies
looking for commercial activity. The idea is to increase income
and diversify revenue streams."
Along with shops, restaurants, bars, parking, conference and
banqueting facilities, a Juventus museum will open in early
"We predict stadium revenues to increase to 15 percent of
commercial income, which is double the current amount, with
revenue rising to 32 million euros of which 20 million will come
from ticketing and six million from naming rights," said Mazzia,
adding there was scope to increase the number of premium seats
in future seasons.
The Turin side have won a record 27 scudettos as well as two
European Cups but have struggled since the Calciopoli scandal in
2006 when they were demoted to Serie B and stripped of the
2004/05 and 2005/06 titles for influencing the selection of
Last year they dropped below AC Milan (7th) and Inter Milan
(9th) to 10th in Deloitte and Touche's Football Money League,
suffering even more than other Italian clubs from poor
Matchday revenue accounted for just eight percent of total
income, well below the 22 percent average Deloitte calculates
for Europe's big five leagues (England, Germany, Spain, France
But Mazzia believes the club's modern arena will now help
push Juventus ahead of the Serie A pack in generating money and
make them better able to compete in Europe.
"Today Juventus is the only Italian club to own its
stadium," said the 55-year old.
"While it's probable that others will follow our lead, I
haven't see any new plans, so from that point of view Juventus
has a competitive advantage of at least four or five years.
"International football has in recent years attracted huge
investment from new operators who have enabled certain teams to
compete in a short space of time.
"It's no surprise that Italian football has been affected,
seeing stars leave and failing to attract big names to Serie A.
Investing in youth is the only way to go forward."
In their bid to get back to the big time, Juve may also be
aided by UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules that restrict a club's
spending according to its revenue and which come into effect in
the 2013/14 season.
"If Financial Fair Play is correctly applied it will
undoubtedly contribute to a more healthy system of international
football," said Mazzia.
"However it could help increase the chasm between clubs with
the highest revenues and all the rest."
Friday's decision by the Italian Olympic Committee's
National Court of Arbitration for Sport (TNAS) that it was
competent to judge on Juve's bid to revoke Inter's 2006 scudetto - handed to the Milan club by default after the Calciopoli
scandal - has been welcomed.
Juve say Inter were also involved in the scandal, something
their rivals have always denied.
"Our president [Andrea Agnelli] is personally following the
latest developments to make sure there is fair treatment
regarding the 2006 scudetto," said Mazzia.
Mazzia sounds confident about the stadium, finances and the
bid to have Inter's 2006 title stripped but matters on the pitch
look less secure.
If the enigmatic Mirko Vucinic and injury-prone Fabio
Quagliarella fail to fire in attack, new coach Antonio Conte may
again have to rely on the legs of 36-year-old Juve stalwart
Alessandro Del Piero.
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