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September 18, 2013

Italy: 2013-14 Serie A Location-map, with 2012-13 attendance data. / With an article on Cagliari’s stadium controversy of 2012-13.

Filed under: Italy — admin @ 9:08 pm

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Italy: 2013-14 Serie A Location-map, with 2012-13 attendance data




(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)

There was a 3.4% increase in overall Serie A attendance in 2012-13, but before you start thinking this is a sign of a revival of the Italian game, the fact is that the 3.4% attendance increase (from 23,234 per game in 12/13, versus 22,466 per game in 11/12) can be explained by 2 factors. Factor 1: 10% to 19% crowd increases at Roma, Bologna and Chievo Verona – the 3 clubs’ crowd increases, added together, put 8,043 per game extra toward the overall Serie A average attendance last season. Factor 2: the return of a couple of large-ish clubs back from Serie B last season – Sampdoria and Torino – and the relegation of three small-ish clubs following the 11/12 season – Cesena, Novara and Lecce. Here’s how I back up that assertion…Samp.+Torino avg. crowds =19,144 per game in 12/13, versus Cesena+Novara+Lecce avg. crowds=12,442 per game in 12/13, meaning a 53% increase to the overall 2012-13 Serie A average attendance via the departure of the 3 relegated clubs from 11/12 and the inclusion of the two promoted clubs for 12/13.

Nevertheless, despite not really having great, standout seasons last year, Roma, Bologna and Chievo Verona had modest-to-pretty-good crowd increases. So maybe we can see the light-at-the-end-of-the tunnel for Serie A and its near-decade-long slump. Maybe that can be seen in the 3,960 per game extra who attended AS Roma matches, and in the 2,179 per game extra who attended Bologna FC matches, and in the 1,904 per game extra who attended the home matches of the Flying Donkeys of Chievo Verona last season.

    Stadia News in Italy

In one way, Italian football really has turned a corner – in beginning to produce well-designed new venues with all the expected modern amenities and with proper, steep-pitched stands and no atmosphere-destroying running track. Juventus FC led the way, with their club-owned Juventus Stadium, which opened in August 2011 (see illustration below). Juventus are the only club in Serie A to own their own stadium. Which, when you compare to the situations in most every other highly-ranked Western European league, is odd, because in England (and in Scotland), in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Spain, and in Portugal, most of the big clubs and many of the mid-sized or small clubs own their own stadiums.

Although this is not the case in France, there are many nice municipal stadiums in Ligue Un and Ligue Deux…the venues of Lille, Saint-Étienne, Lens, Rennes, and Bastia – to name a few – are all nice municipal stadiums with some good stands and no running tracks. Many if not most French municipalities who have built venues to house their first division football clubs had long ago dispensed with the misbegotten notion that it made any sense to put a little-used and superfluous running track into a facility that would be primarily used for football matches. With the exception of Milan and Genoa, Italian municipalities never got this memo. Italy may be one of the world leaders in design, but in public planning, not so much. This needs to change if Serie A ever hopes to reclaim its place as the most well-attended association football league in the world. Best-drawing league in the world was a distinction the Italian top flight held for over two decades during the mid-1970s (overtaking England’s First Division in 1972-73 [at 32,176 per game]), all through the 1980s and into the early 1990s, peaking at 38,872 per game in 1984-85, and still drawing best overall for another 9 years until Germany’s Bundesliga overtook Serie A as the top-drawing league in 1994-95 {figures here, european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm}.
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Photo and Image credits above -
juvepoland.com.
Interior photo of Juventus Stadium by Maurice Moerland, at stadiumguide.com/juventusstadium.

In Genoa, there is a very nice municipal stadium, Stadio Luigi Ferraris {‘Stadio Luigi Ferraris‘ (stadiumguide.com)}, which, unlike almost all large top-flight municipal stadiums in Italy (besides San Siro in Milan), has never had a running track. Sampdoria share it with local rivals Genoa C&FC. Despite the excellent venue, and perhaps in part because they wish to literally distance themselves from their rival, Sampdoria have long wished to build and own their own stadium. Now they have preliminary plans in place – see the following. From Stadium Guide.com, from 14 April 2013, ‘Sampdoria take step closer to seafront stadium‘.

Meanwhile. Udinese, a club that has been trailblazing in a different way (with satellite-clubs in England and Spain/ see caption in illustration below), have taken the cue from Juventus. Working with the owners of their home-stadium, the city of Udine, Udinese have totally re-designed and renovated the Stadio Friuli. To say the people involved in Udinese’s stadium re-design were influenced by the design of Juventus Stadium would be an understatement. Here is an article on that from TheScore.com, ‘Udinese Hope To Provide a model For Serie A in Stadio Fruli Revolution‘ (by Paolo Bandini on 8 April 2013 at thescore.com/counterattack-blog).

More stadium news in Serie A for 2013-14 can be found at the next link. From the excellent site ForzaItalianoFootball.com, ‘Serie A Summer Stadium Changes’ (by Marco Jackson on 6 July 2013 at forzaitalianfootball.com).

Below: Udinese Calcio (owned by the Pozzo family), and Stadio Friuli (owned by the municipality of Udine, Friuli, Italy).
udinese_stadio-friuli_renovation2013_pozzo-3-clubs-owned_udinese_granada_watford_h.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
13/14 Udinese kits from ‘Udinese Calcio‘ (en.wikipedia.org).
Photo of former configuration of Stadio Friuli unattributed from udin-e.it.
Udinese crest/flags from banner at udinese.it.
Image of Stadio Friuli redevelpment plan uploaded by Franz85 at skyscrapercity.com.

    12/13: The Twilight Zone season of Cagliari Calcio – 3 home venues (one of which was 800 km. away), 2 matches played behind closed doors, one match abandoned and lost, one president under house arrest, an improvised dual-manager partnership – and a strong 11th place finish for the Isolani of Sardinia

Speaking of attendance problems (and of ongoing dysfunction in the calcio world), Sardinia-based Cagliari Calcio ended up playing (so far) 2 more matches in Trieste – where Cagliari have now played some of their ‘home’ matches for the third consecutive season – and they will play another on Sunday 29 September 2013 (v. Inter). Cagliari will have ended up playing [so far] 11 ‘home’ matches there. From ForzaItalianFootball.com, from 25 Sept. 2013, by Marco Jackson, ‘Cagliari Stadium Return Delayed Again‘ (forzaitalianfootball.com).

This does not sound so bad if you are not familiar with the geography of Italy. But Trieste, in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, is the furthest north-eastern location in Italy, and is basically not on the Italian peninsula but on the Balkan peninsula, and is a whopping 810 km. or 530 mlles NE of Cagliari (as the crow flies). But that doesn’t even begin to describe how difficult for Caglliari fans it was to get from Cagliari to Trieste, because if you don’t take a plane flight there, and if you tried to drive there, you would first have to take a ferry from Sardinia to the Italian mainland, then drive north up the spine of Italy, then make your way east all the way to the Italian/Slovenian border. There, on a narrow strip of Italian territory lying between the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia, is the 205,000 population city of Trieste. [Trieste is just 72 km. or 45 miles SW of the Slovenian capital of Lubljana.]. To travel by car-ferry-car from Caglari to Trieste would end up being an expensive, arduous, and headache-inducing journey of about 1,061 km. or 659 miles. One note – the venue there in Trieste, the Stadio Nereo Rocco, is actually quite nice (as you can see in the satellite image below). It is just a shame that a club and its supporters, clear across the other side of Italy, were forced to call it home for a while.
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Image credit above – aerial satellite image from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye view.

The reason for all this was because the venue (the 23,00-capacity Stadio Sant’Elia) that Cagliari Calcio had called home from 1970-71 to 2011-12 was in such state of disrepair. But the municipal authorities in Cagliari refused to work with the club to improve the venue. So just prior to the 2012-13 season the club president, Massimo Cellino, tried to build a quasi-new stadium in the adjacent municipality of Quartu Sant’Elena – the Is Arenas (capacity 16,500). That venue in the eastern suburbs of Cagliari was once the stadium of a 3rd division club, but had not been in use since the mid-1980s. It ended up having a re-build, but it was a slapped-together rush-job. 3 new stands were hastily installed in the summer of 2012 – stands made of steel and pre-fab materials held up by a maze of what was essentially scaffolding and that looked anything but safe (see 3rd photo below).

The authorities on the island of Sardinia stepped in, in late August 2012, and banned spectators from attending matches there until the venue could get a proper safety clearance. Cagliari’s first home match in the 12/13 season, a 1-1 draw versus Atalanta on 2 Sept. 2012, was played behind closed doors and without spectators. Then the Cagliari front office ignored this ongoing spectator-ban and started selling tickets on the official club website for their second home match. As you might imagine, the authorities were not pleased with this development…so the club’s second home match last season, on 23 Sept. 2012, was abandoned, and the result was given to the visitors, Roma, by a 0-3 score. Cagliari finally got a safety clearance for the Is Arenas for their third home match, and the club ended up playing 12 matches with spectators there (15 total).

So then, through the fall of 2012 and early 2013, six home matches – with spectators allowed to attend – were played at the Is Arenas there in the eastern suburbs of Cagliari, including a 16,000 sell-out versus Napoli on Friday the 26th of November (Napoli won that match, 0-1). Those 6 home matches in the early part of the 12/13 season also included a 1-1 draw v. Catania where the main stand at the Is Arenas was closed, and the match drew only about 4,000.

In 2011-12, Cagliari had been in a relegation battle and finished 16th. After 6 games into 2012-13, Cagliari were dead last in the table, with 4 losses and 2 draws. Their manager Massimo Ficcadenti was sacked, and on 2 October 2013, former Cagliari player Ivo Pulga was named as new manager, alongside newly-appointed assistant Diego López, in a surprise move. Former Cagliari DF López played 12 seasons for the Isolani (from 1998 to 2010), making over 400 appearances for the team, and retiring after 2009-10. López would have been named manager, but the veteran (with 32 caps for Uruguay) did not have his UEFA coaching badges at that point in time (currently [2013-14], the two have switched roles, with the now-39-year-old López in the manager’s role for Cagliari, and with Pulga now as first team coach). Pulga, who had played as a MF for Cagliari from 1985 to 1991, had been coaching the youth set-up at Modena, and had never managed a pro squad. But he (and his assistant Diego López) brought in a good passing style of football to the Isolani squad, and they brought results. The Rossoblu finally won their first game the next match, away to Torino. And then Cagliari won their next 3 (v. Bologna, away to Sampdoria, and v. Siena). By January, Cagliari was long gone from the basement and starting to look like they could actually avoid relegation that season, in spite of it all.

Then out of the blue, the stadium issue arose again, and the authorities ruled that Cagliari had to play one of their mid-season home matches, on 12 February 2013 versus Juventus, on the Italian mainland, in Parma, in the central-Italian region of Emilia-Romagna. Wow, how convenient for convicted-match-riggers and reigning champions Juventus [see Calciopoli scandal of 2006], who suddenly didn’t have to fly out to Sardinia, and who, of course, went on to win the match 1-3. The distance from Juventus’ home-city of Turin, to Parma, is only about 244 km. or 151 miles via roadway. So this match effectively became more of a home match for Juventus than it was for Cagliari. Also in February 2013, being charged with embezzelement and false representation in the rebuilding of the stadium, the president of Cagliari Calcio, Massimo Cellino, along with the mayor of Quartu Sant’Elena, was arrested and jailed, on accusation of diverting a substantial sum, see this ‘Cagliari President Massimo Cellino ‘arrested in stadium investigation’‘ (independent.co.uk from 14 Feb.2013 by Brian Homewood). Then the authorities put Cellino under house arrest, not at the president’s home, because Cellino’s official residence is in Miami, Florida, USA, but – wait for it – in the Cagliari training facilities. And Cagliari’s training facillities are quite posh (unlike their stadiums). With this development, the Cagliari stadium controversy was starting to sound like the plot-line to a sitcom.

But back to the Cagliari v. Juventus match in Parma – why were Cagliari suddenly forced to play Juventus on the mainland, close to Turin? One cannot help but be suspicious of this, and see Juventus’ hand in this abrupt, unexplained, and convenient-for-them change in venue for this match. After Juve were so nicely accommodated with their extra de-facto home game, Cagliari then were allowed to play 5 consecutive home matches at the Is Arenas through the late winter and early spring of 2013. But then for the 30 March 2013 match of Cagliari v. Fiorentina, authorities re-instated the ban on spectators at the Is Arenas [I could not find any explanation for this re-instatement of the ban on spectators there, other than explanations like this one...'fans were barred because of ongoing safety concerns' (theflorentine.net from 11 April 2013 by Sam Lawley)].

Despite the empty stadium (some Cagliari fans were able to watch the match outside the ground through a narrow gap in the gates to the stadium), Cagliari beat la Viola 2-1, and so, despite their Twilight-Zone season, the Cagliari squad continued to play well and get results. The Isolani had gelled despite being faced with an almost unparalleled set of circumstances, and with the Pulga/López dual-manager arrangement, the Cagliari squad was producing result after result.
From The Guardian, from 11 March 2013, by Paolo Bandini, ‘Cagliari’s fans get a win to cheer – it’s just a pity they can’t see it A siege mentality has taken hold of a club with an uninhabitable stadium, a president under arrest and a board that has resigned‘ (theguardian.com/football).

Below, Cagliari’s stadium controversy of 2012-13.
cagliari_2012-13_stadio-sant-elia_is-arenas_stadium-problems_marco-sau_victor-ibarbo_radja-nainggolan_f.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
Photo of Stadio Sant’Elena in Cagliari from sardegnasport.com.
Photo of the exterior of the hastily-built Is Arenas, from corrieredellosport.it.
Photo of Cagliari fans at the short-lived Is Arenas, from foxsportsasia.com.
Photo of makeshift infrastructure of the stands at Is Arenas, from efectofutbol.net/la-crisis-estructural-del-calcio-cagliari-el-club-huerfano/stadio-is-arenas.
Photo of Victor Ibaraba by Roberto Tronci/EPA, via theguardian.com/football/blog/2013/mar/11/cagliari-sampdoria-behind-closed-doors-seriea.
Screenshot of video image of Marco Sau goal celebration from video uploaded by Love Football Italia at youtube.com, ‘Marco Sau Goal (71′) Napoli vs Cagliari (3-2) Official HD Highlight‘ (youtube.com).
Photo of Radja Nainggolan, from palembang.tribunnews.com.
Photo of Cagiari players in celebration, from thegentlemanultra.tumblr.com.
Photo of 12/13 Cagliari manager Ivo Pulga from, terzapaginaonline.it/cagliari___________________campionato_2012-013.html .
Photo of 13/14 Cagliari manager Diego López from cagliaricalcio.net via futbol.com.uy

This abilty of the Isolani squad to get results in the face of the ongoing stadium imbroglio was again evident in their next home match, when yet again the ban on spectators at the Is Arenas was lifted. This was their 15th home date, in the 32nd week of the 12/13 season, versus Internazionale. Cagliari won 2-0 over the Milanese giants. But that was the last time the authorities allowed Cagliari to play at their makeshift venue. So just like in 2011-12, Cagliari ended up playing their final home matches clear across the other side of Italy in Trieste [Cagliari had played their final 4 home matches in Trieste in 2011-12, and they played their last 3 home matches there in 12/13.]. As The Gentleman Ultra said in the article linked to below, Cagliari playing home matches in Trieste is like ‘the equivalent of Shamrock Rovers playing their home games at Watford’. Attendance was around 9K to 10K for those 3 matches. Cagliari ended their 2012-13 Serie A campaign-from-hell by beating Lazio 1-0 in Trieste, and the Isolani finished a very credible 11th place. The fate of the makeshift Is Arenas is in limbo now (it might be demolished), and Cagliari have moved back into their old venue in Cagliari, the Stadio Sant’Elia, now that a truce has been reached between the club and the city, and hasty renovations there have been completed.

I’ll leave the final word on this whole affair to the Gentleman Ultra, but before that article below, I thought I’d re-print AC Milan’s official statement on the whole Cagliari stadium controversy of 2012-13…

[Official announcement from AC Milan:] ‘The league has announced that the Cagliari-Fiorentina match will be played behind closed doors. On February 10, 2013, Milan played before a full stadium, like six other teams. Three teams played in front of only season-ticket holders, three behind closed doors. Only one, Juventus, [played] at a neutral ground. In one instance, a 0-3 was awarded (to Roma), and nobody knows what will happen in the next few days…
In light of decisions that any person of good sense would judge incomprehensible on account of the different rulings in essentially identical cases, it’s clear that the normal course of the Serie A championship has been altered.”…{end of statement from AC Milan on 29 March, 2013 (via this article by Mark Doyle, ‘AC Milan: Cagliari stadium controversy has ‘altered’ championship‘ at sports.yahoo.com)}.

From The Gentleman Ultra, ‘The Isolani’s Season in Review‘ (thegentlemanultra.tumblr.com, from 25 May 2013, by Richard Hall).

___

Thanks to the contributors at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2013–14 Serie A‘.
Thanks to the following Wikipedia contributor…base map by TUBS at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Italy provincial location map.svg‘.

Thanks to E-F-S site for attendance figures, http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk/attn.htm.
Thanks to Soccerway.com for Serie A match details from 2012-13, http://int.soccerway.com/national/italy/serie-a/20132014/regular-season/r21388/.

Thanks to the Gentleman Ultra.

August 24, 2012

Italy: 2012-13 Serie A – Top of the Table chart, featuring 2011-12 Serie A champion Juventus / Plus 2012-13 Serie A Location-map, with 2011-12 attendance data.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 3:01 pm
    Juventus – champions of Italy (for the 28th time)…

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Juventus – 2011-12 Serie A champions.




(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)

Juventus Football Club won their 28th Italian title last season. Or their 30th Italian title, according to Juventus – ‘Juventus defiant in match-fix controversy‘ (edition.cnn.com, by Alex Thomas and Paul Gittings, from 22 May 2012). Juventus and some of their supporters still think that their club did nothing wrong in the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, and that they never should have been stripped of their 2005 and 2006 titles, and that their then-general manager Luciano Moggi never did anything wrong by virtually having every Serie A referee on his speed-dial and by being able to control which referees officiated which games {see this, ‘2006 Italian football scandal‘ (en.wikipedia.org).

And last year, the fallout from 2006 had barely subsided when a new scandal unfolded – ‘Italian football rocked by fresh match-fixing scandal‘ (guardian.co.uk/football, from 2 June 2011, by James Callow). If you want to know more about how this latest scandal affects the clubs in Serie A, see the last link, at the bottom of this post (an article by Amy Lawrence at guardian.co.uk/football). As far as the reigning champions are concerned, a 10-month touch-line ban for Juventus manager Antonio Conte has been imposed (for when Conte was manager of then-Serie-B-club Siena). But the evidence for that thread of the scandal rests with just one former Siena player, and appeals might change this ban. If not, Conte, sitting in the stands there in Turin, will probably just find some way to tell the coaches who to sub for – the way Jose Mourinho did. Italian society will probably never change – organized crime rules society there to such an extent that there often is the mind-set in Italy that you are not trying to succeed if you are not trying to get something by the authorities. From “The Camorra Never Sleeps”, an article by William Langieweische, “…{excerpt}…”In a place like Italy—where the recent prime minister condones tax evasion as a natural right and publicly impugns the courts—it becomes hard to believe that police actions are sincerely about law and order, or that officials still believe that law and order matter.”…{end of excerpt from page 6, paragraph 7 of vanityfair.com/culture/2012/05/naples-mob-paolo-di-lauro-italy. In business, this means finding extra-legal ways to avoid onerous taxes and regulations that would kill off a 100% legitimate enterprise. In sports, this means actively trying to fool the refs, or at the very least, actively trying to coerce the refs. So the act of players diving, in Serie A matches, is not only tolerated by some, it is expected. Because the logic here is that if you are not trying to fool the ref, that means you are not using every tool at your disposal, and therefore by not diving in the penalty box and trying to win a penalty kick for your team by faking the act of being fouled, you are actually working against your own team’s best interests. And so in this context football club general managers, like Moggi was for Juventus, are expected to try to exert control over referees. This fluid moral code is a theme that runs throughout the book ‘Calcio: A History of Italian Football’ by John Foot {at amazon.com, here}. Here is an excerpt from the book’s preface…
[excerpt]…’A better way way to see calcio is as a kind of fanatical civic religion – where loyalty is total and obsession the norm. Fair play seemed to me to be a concept absent from Italian football discourse. Diving was common and not particularly frowned upon – as long as it worked. In fact, commentators often praised the ‘craftiness’ of non-sportsmanship. There was no moral code here. Winners were always ‘right’, losers always wrong. ‘…[end of excerpt].

What, hopefully, might change in Italy is Italian football clubs’ reliance on lame, dreary, soul-less running-track-scarred municipal stadiums. You can say what you want about Juventus (and I just did), but, as with regards to the future of stadium construction in Italy, Juventus has now shown the way. The completion of Juventus Stadium (opened in August 2011) makes Juventus the only Serie A club to build and own their own stadium. It’s about time. And Juventus Stadium is stunning, and beautiful, and the steep angles of the stands {see this} affords spectators great views and comfortable seating. And there is no ridiculous, atmosphere-deadening running track, so the spectators are about as close to the field of play as is possible, the way football matches should be staged.

There are 20 clubs in the 2012-13 Serie A. 5% of them own their own stadium. 95% of them play in stadiums that were built by, are owned by, and are maintained by state institutions – in either municipal stadiums (85% of the clubs) or in a venue built and owned by the Italian National Olympic Committee (Stadio Olimpico in Rome, home of Lazio and Roma). Of the 17 stadiums that will be hosting Serie A matches in the 2012-13 Serie A season, 7 of them have running tracks which make the closest seats in some sections of the stadiums 15 or 20 meters away from the field. And almost every one of these municipal stadiums with running tracks feature seats that are set in stands that are at a very shallow incline, so by the 20th row or so, the football match you are trying to watch is pretty hard to see.

Here are the 8 clubs playing in the 2012-13 Serie A that play in venues that have a running track – Bologna, Catania, Lazio, Napoli, Pescara, Roma, Siena, and Udinese. Plus in several instances, in the stadiums of Fiorentina, Palermo, Torino, and Atalanta, the municipalities in each case either filled in the running-track-sections of the stadiums with new sections of stands (like at Fiorentina’s stadium, Stadio Artemio Franchi {see photos here at fussballtempel.net}, or they just planted grass there and left a bit of the track (like at Palermo’s Stadio Renzo Barberasee this photo by frakorea at flickr.com). That sort of re-build yields unsatisfactory results, and even in the nicest re-build, Torino FC’s stadium, Stadio Olimpico di Torino, the ghost of the running track and the divide it created between stands and playing field is still there, as you can see here. In all of Serie A there are only 3 top claiber stadiums – San Siro in Milan (the venue of Inter and Milan – here is Stadium Guide.com’s page on San Siro with some photos at the bottom of the page]; Stadio Luigi Ferraris in Genoa (the venue of Sampdoria and Genoa – a couple of photos here {worldstadiums.com), and now Juventus Stadium. Special mention must go to the municipality of Parma and home of Parma FC – Stadio Ennio Tardini, which is a stadium with some charm (despite being a utilitarian bowl-shape), with some nicley-angled stands {see bing.com/Bird’s Eye view of Parma FC’s home, here [to enlarge, multiple-click on magnify sign (plus-sign) at top right], and could be seen to be on par with some of the nicer French municipal stadiums (like at RC Lens and at Saint-Étienne).

How is it that big, and even medium-sized football clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, and Portugal can build and maintain their own stadiums, but in places in Europe like Italy and in places in South America like Brazil, almost every club, even the big clubs, must rely on municipalities to build and maintain their stadiums? Municipalities that end up doing a ham-handed job of building insipid multi-purpose stadiums which are almost always devoid of any charm or character and which inevitably feature a running track. Who the heck cares about track and field outside of the Olympics? No one. Sure, governments, or municipalities themselves, should build running tracks, just like they should build libraries. But they don’t put libraries in buildings the size of aircraft hangers, so why do municipalities in Europe and in South America put running tracks in venues that are way too big for the demand? Why do they have to put them in 40,000-seat municipal stadiums? When was the last time, say, Naples really needed that running track in their Stadio San Paolo, because 60,000 Neopolitans were going to attend a track-and-field event? I am willing to wager that the answer is never. Just look at that soul-destroying vast yawning gap there between the fans in the stands and the playing field {here}. You see, Stadio San Paolo was built as a venue for the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics. So you’re thinking…Hey Bill, that just disproves your whole argument. Well, it would if the Olympic event that the Naples stadium was hosting in the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics was track and field. But it wasn’t. Stadio San Paolo in Naples hosted football in the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics. The city planners built the stadium specifically for football – in the Olympics that Italy was hosting – but those clueless city planners still built it with that STUPID USELESS RUNNING TRACK that ruins it for football and is fundamentally useless for anything else… because no one gives a flying fuck about stupid boring pointless track-and-field.

Those running tracks serve no purpose, situated as they are within stadiums that are also home to a football club that draws 20K or 30 K or 40K or more, twenty times a year. Tell me the last time a track and field event outside of the Olympics drew 40,000 people? 30,000 people? 20,000 people? OK, not counting the runners’ Mecca of the state of Oregon, where they recently had 20,000 at a US Track and Field event. But there are no pro soccer stadiums or college gridiron football stadiums in Oregon that have a running track in the stadium. So the place in the world with probably the highest percentage of runners (Oregon) doesn’t even see the need to put running tracks in large multi-purpose municipal stadiums that house their biggest sports teams. The idea of putting a running track into a sports stadium does exist in the USA, but it almost always is with regards to lower-division college sports programs or high school sports stadiums. I am pretty sure there is not one single example in the United States of an NCAA Division I FBS college football stadium that has a running track, out of a total 120 teams in Division I FBS [It turns out I was wrong - 5 of the 120 teams in NCAA Division I FBS play in stadiums with a running track - the Buffalo Bulls, the Eastern Michigan Eagles, the Nevada Wolf Pack, the SMU Mustangs, and the Texas State Bobcats - see comments #1 and #2 below. But that percentage - 4.1% - is still less than any Western European football league with the exception of England and Netherlands (who currently have zero top-flight clubs that play in stadiums with running tracks). And those 5 college gridiron football teams in the top level in America are mostly part of small but growing programs that will in all likelihood eventually move into a new, running-track-free stadium in the near future (except for Eastern Michigan)].

Here is an article I found when I Googled ‘attendance at track and field events’, ‘Empty Bleachers: Getting Fans To Attend Our Best Meets‘ (flotrack.org/blog). And in the interest of full disclosure, I actually did find the mention of recent (2009) attendances of track events in Rabat, Morocco and in Belém, Brazil which drew in the 30 to 35,000 range {http://mb.trackandfieldnews.com/discussion/viewtopic.php?t=35496/ first poster at top of page}

But regardless, those anomalies aside, there is basically no public demand for track and field events outside the Olympics. However, there is plenty of public demand for top flight football, almost everywhere in the world – even, to a lesser extent in the USA and Canada {forget about Australia, though). Which is why English and Spanish and German and Dutch and Portuguese football clubs are able to build and own their own stadiums. These clubs had the means to build and own their own stadiums because the ticket-paying demand was there. You know, there has always been a huge demand for professional top flight football in Italy. And there have been millions of tickets bought to top flight football matches through the years in Italy. So why did over 95% of Italian football clubs, even the biggest clubs with hundreds of thousands of paying customers each season, never have the means (or the desire) to build their own stadiums?

From BBC.co.uk/Football, from 6 May 2012, ‘Juventus wrap up Italian Serie A championship in style‘.

From UEFA.com, ‘Season review: Italy‘.

From guardian.co.uk, from 15 Aug. 2012, by Amy Lawrence, ‘Juventus turmoil leaves Roma and Napoli ready to pounce –
Coach Antonio Conte’s 10-month ban could derail the Serie A champions, but Milan and Internazionale have problems too
‘.

    Italian clubs playing in Europe for 2012-13 – Juventus FC, AC Milan, Udinese Calcio, SS Lazio, SSC Napoli, FC Internazionale -

2012-13_serie-a_clubs-in-europe_.segment_c.gif

    2012-13 Serie A Location-map, with attendance data -

2012-13_serie-a_location-map_attendance_segment_.gif
Note:
Cagliari playing in Trieste (April 2012 article), football.thestar.com.my/2012/04/21/cagliari-to-play-three-more-games-in-trieste.
Attendance data from european-football-statistics.co.uk.
Map by TUBS at en.wikipedia.org, ‘Italy provincial location map.svg‘.

Juventus photos on the chart page -
Celebration, todayheads.com.
Manager,both photos of Antonio Conte by Massimo Pinca/AP via article.wn.com.
Players -
Alessandro Matri – Photo unattributed at forzaitalianfootball.com/2011/04/player-profile-alessandro-matri.
Claudio Matri – Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com.
– Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images Europe) via zimbio.com.
Andrea Pirlo – Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images via sportsillustrated.cnn.com.
Stadium -
Aerial photo of Juventus Stadium [unattributed] from stadiumporn.com
Exterior photos of Juventus Stadium with crowd in foreground [unattributed], segment of outside shell of stadium [unattributed], and segment of exterior with Juventus Football Club sign [unattributed] from AP via newshopper.sulekha.com.
Large exterior photo of Juventus Stadium [unattributed] from stadiumporn.com.
Interior photo of Juventus Stadium [at the far right on the page] by Massimo Pinca/AP via goal.blogs.nytimes.com
Photo of 2011-12 Juventus home kit badge from mykitshop.com.

Other clubs on the chart page -
AC Milan/Stadio Giusseppe Meazza (aka San Siro) – Photo of Milan ultras from Fossa dei Leoni site via vb.acmilanclub.com . Photo of interior of San Siro by Alessandro Mogliani at en.wikipedia.org. Exterior photo of San Siro by Sotutto at en.wikipedia.org.

Udinese/Stadio Friuli – Photo of Udinese fans [unattributed], Getty Images via IndiaTimes.com. Interior photo of Stadio Friuli by, Martaudine at it.wikipedia.org. Aerial image of Stadio Friuli from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.

Lazio/Stadio Olimpico – Photo of Lazio’s eagle mascot being released for it’s regular flight around Stadio Olympico [unattributed] from imageshack.us. Photo of Lazio fans in Curva Nord by Andrea Buratti at en.wikipedia.org. Night-time aerial photo of Stadio Olimpico by Maori19 at it.wikipedia.org.

Napoli/Stadio San Paolo – Photo of traveling Napoli fans at Siena (Jan. 2012) by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images Europe via zimbio.com. Photo of upper tier at Stadio San Paolo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda-Photo.com. Aerial image of Stadio San Paolo from bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view.

Internazionale/San Siro – Photo of Inter fans with giant banner in Curva Nord of San Siro by batrax at Flickr.com, here. Interior photo of San Siro from SanSiro.net. Exterior photo of San Siro by Sotutto at en.wikipedia.org.

August 16, 2011

Italy: the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B to Serie A, for the 2011-12 season / Plus, Italian Baseball League – location map of the 8-team league, with Scudetto and Coppa Italia [Baseball] titles of each club.

Filed under: Italy,Italy: Baseball — admin @ 10:01 pm

promoted_italy_june2011_post_b.gif
The 3 promoted clubs in Serie A


From wsc.co.uk, on 1 Aug. 2011, by Geoff Bradford, ‘Italy’s match-fixing investigation will run and run‘.
Note: as the above articles points out, most observers of the Italian game don’t think the implicated club Atalanta will get relegated back down to Serie B as punishment for their part in the betting and match fixing scandal from last season (which took place mostly in Serie B and Serie C). Atalanta will probably get a points deduction for this season.

Two of the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B in June will be immediately returning to the Italian top flight – Atalanta and AC Siena. The other promoted club, Novara, has not been in the first division since 1956.

Atalanta are from Bergamo, which is in the Region of Lombardy, 45 km. (29 miles) north-east of Milan. Bergamo has a population of around 120,000 {2010 figure}. Such close proximity to Milan and the 2 Milanese footballing giants (Milan and Internazionale) has certainly prevented Atalanta from building a larger fan base. Atalanta drew 18, 737 per game last season, but that number is much higher than recent attendance figures because the club had slashed ticket prices following relegation from Serie A in 2009-10, and that helped increase the crowds. In fact, Atalanta was drawing in the 12,000 per game range in their last 2 seasons in Serie A (08/09 and 09/10). Atalanta have played 50 seasons in Serie A, the 2011-12 Serie A season will be their 51st. The club has no national titles, but Atalanta did win the 1963 Coppa Italia title, defeating Torino 3-1. Their highest finish in Serie A was in 1947-48, when they finished 5th (in the first Serie A season following World War II). The club was formed in 1907, and played with black and white vertically-striped jerseys. The club took their name from the character in Greek mythology named Atalanta, who was a female athlete. In 1924 a merger between Atalanta and Bergamasca created Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio S.p.A. Bergamasca had played in blue jerseys, so the new club began wearing black and blue vertically-striped jerseys. Atalanta joined the Italian league system in 1929, and first reached Serie A in 1937-38, but were relegated back to Serie B immediately. Their next spell in the top flight was much longer, a 16-season spell from 1940-41 to 1958-59. They won promotion back to Serie A one season later, for the 1960-61 season, and this time Atalanta stayed in the top tier for a decade, before relegation in 1972-73. After that, Atalanta morphed into a yo-yo club. Promoted in 1977/relegated back to Serie B two seasons later in 1979. Promoted in 1985/relegated two seasons later in 1987. Promoted in 1988/relegated six seasons later in 1994. Promoted in 1995/relegated three seasons later in 1998. Promoted in 2000/relegated three seasons later in 2003. Promoted in 2004/relegated one season later in 2005. Promoted in 2006/relegated four seasons later in 2010. Atalanta plays in the 24,642-capacity Stadio Atleti Azzuri d’Italia.

AC Siena are from Siena, in the region of Tuscany. The city of Siena has a long history and a prominence and is quite a tourist magnet. But it is a tiny city – Siena’s population is only around 54,000 {2010 figure}. AC Siena drew 7,281 per game last season, and drew between 8 and 11,000 per game when they were in the top flight (for the first time) for a 7-season spell from 2003-04 to 2009-10. Società Sportiva Robur was formed in 1904. In 1933, the club’s name was changed to Associazione Calcio Siena SpA. The club still maintains the odd Robur reference in their crest, and around town the football team is called Robur to differentiate them from the club’s basketball team. Siena never managed to reach the second division, let alone the first division, in the nineteen-hundreds, and were finally promoted to Serie B in 2000. Siena then won promotion to Serie A three seasons later, in 2003. The club has played 7 seasons in the Italian top flight, never reaching higher than 13th place (which they did in 03/04 and in 08/09). 2011-12 will be Siena’s 8th season in Serie A. Siena have a loose affiliation with Juventus in that Juve often loans out players to Siena for experience, and the two clubs co-own some players (which is a common practice in Italy). Siena play at the Stadio Artemio Franchi – Montepaschi Arena, which has a capacity of just 15,373. A recent renovation got rid of the running track behind one goal. Further renovations are not planned, because in March 2011, Siena announced plans for a new stadium, to be built just south of the city, {see this article, with architect’s renderings, ‘Siena’s new stadium will be below ground level‘, from the brilliant Dirty Tackle site}.

Novara are from Novara, in the Region of Piedmont, 44 km. (27 miles) west of MIlan, and 88 km. (55 miles) north-east of Turin. Novara has a population of around 105,000 {2010 figure}. Because the club is from that historical region, Novara wear jerseys in the shade of blue (a grayish light royal blue) of the nation-of-Italy’s-founder-ruling-entity, the House of Savoy {as does the Italian national football team, see this ‘Why do Italian national sporting teams play in blue colours?‘, from Guardian.co.uk}. Novara has now won back-to-back promotions. Novara drew drew 2,241 per game in Serie C in 2009-10, and 5,449 per game in Serie B in 2010-11 . [I couldn't find attendance figures for Novara's last season in Serie A, 56 years ago.] Novara Calcio S.p.A were formed in 1908, and made their debut in the Italian league system in 1912. The club comes from the area in the eastern part of the Piedmont that was home to a very successful club in the early days of Italian football – Pro Vercelli, who won 7 Italian titles, their last in 1922, but are now a third division club [Novara is 22 km/14 mi. NE of Vercelli]. Novara first won promotion to Serie A in 1936, but went straight back down. Their next spell in the top flight lasted 3 seasons, from 1938-39 to 1940-41. Novara’s third spell in the top tier lasted 8 seasons, from 1948-49 to 1955-56, and included the club’s highest placement, at 8th place in 1951-52. It was during this era that Silvio Piola played for Novara. Piola racked up over 300 goals for Novara, and their stadium is named after him. Novara have spent much of their last 50 years in Serie C and Serie C2 [which are the third and fourth divisions, and now (since 2008) have the name of Legia Pro Prima Divisione and Legia Pro Seconda Divisione]. After 33 years below the second division, Novara won promotion back to Serie B in 2009-10. They finished in 3rd place in Serie B in 2010-11, and entered the promotion play-offs. In the first round, their 2-2 aggregate versus Reggina was good enough for them to advance, because in Italy, an aggregate tie in this case is not decided by away goals or overtime but by league finish, and Novara finished higher than Reggina. In the finals, Novara defeated Padova 2-0 in aggregate. On the map page you can see the Novara players celebrating their promotion with a victory lap around their Stadio Silvio Piola, which has a capacity of only 10,106. This season will be Novara’s 13th season in Serie A.

By the way, that baseball park next to Novara’s stadium (as seen in the satellite image on the map page) is the home of Italian Baseball League ball club Novara United. Novara United are a new member of the IBL {see this from BaseballItalia.com site from Feb.2011, here}. The Italian Baseball League is an 8-team league that was formed in 1948 {‘Italian Baseball League‘, page at en.wikipedia.org.}

So here is a map of the 2011 Italian Baseball League -
Click on the image below for map of Italian Baseball League 2011 season…
italian-baseball-league2011_ball-clubs_w-titles_segment_b.gif

_

Photo credits -
Atalanta… Photo of roofed stand at Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia from fussballtempel.net. Interior photo of Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia by albe at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial photo from Skyscrapercity.com thread, here [and from a source that included a tag of 'Skypictures', which was from a site I could not find following a Google search]. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Novara…Photo of Novara players taking victory lap after winning the promotion play-off two-legged final versus Padova, on 12 June 2011, from AP/La Presse via CalcioPro.com, here. Photo of Stadio Silvio Piola at dusk from PESstatsdatabase.com, here. Photo of Stadio Silvio Piola main stand by aldo.maccone at Panoramio.com, here. Aerial image from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Siena…Photo of Photo of Stadio Artemio Franch in sunlight from SienaFree.it, here. Photo of new curva stand at Stadio Artemio Franch by Amras Carnesîr at pt.wikipedia.org, here. Stadio Artemio Franchi with running track in foreground by magro_kr at Flickr.com, here. Aerial image of Stadio Artemio Franchi from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Thanks to E-F-S site for attendance figures.
Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en and it.wikipedia.org, ’2011-12 Serie A‘.

July 14, 2011

Italy: final table of 2010-11 Serie A, with clubs playing in Europe in UEFA competitions for 2011-12 / Plus, map with location of clubs in 2011-12 Serie A, with attendance data.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 7:31 pm

2011-12_serie-a_clubs-in-europe_milan-segment_c.gif
Italian clubs playing in Europe in 2011-12




(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)

From wsc.co.uk, on 1 Aug. 2011, by Geoff Bradford, ‘Italy’s match-fixing investigation will run and run‘.

Milan won their first Scudetto in 7 seasons under their first-year manager Masimilliano Allegri. Allegri was hired after two successful seasons at the small provincial club Cagliari Calcio. Under Allegri, the Sardinia-based Cagliari finished in 9th place twice despite minimal resources, earning Allegri 2 straight Panchina d’Oro (Golden bench) awards, which are voted on by Serie A managers. Milan hired Allegri in June 2011. Allegri shored up Milan’s defense, and a solid back four built around Centre Back Thiago Silva, plus a very good year for Zlatan Ibrahimović (who scored 14 goals and recorded 11 assists), helped Milan secure the title after 5 consecutive seasons in which the Scudetto was in the hands of their local rivals Internazionale.

The first chart (click on image above) shows the 7 Italian clubs who have qualified for Europe in 2011-12, including the 3 that have automatically qualified for the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League Group Stage – Milan, Internazionale, and Napoli. Milan won the European title most recently in 2007 (Milan have won 6 European titles). Internazionale won the European title two seasons ago in 2010 (Inter have won 3 European titles). Napoli have no European titles, although they did win the 1989 UEFA Cup. Napoli return to the Champions League-level of the European format for the first time since 1990-91, when the Maradona-less squad exited in the 2nd round of the European Cup to Spartak Moscow.

Udinese beat out Lazio for 4th place on goal difference, and now have shot at making their second appearance in the Champions League Group Stage (their first appearance was in 2005-06, when they finished 3rd in their group). But they are an unseeded team in the draw, so Udinese might end up playing a huge club like Arsenal or Bayern Munich. The draw is set for 5th August, see this ‘2011-12 UEFA Champions League/Play-off round‘, from en.wikipedia.org.

The three Italian clubs who have qualified for 2011-12 UEFA Europa League qualifiers are: 5th place finisher Lazio, 6th place finisher Roma, and 8th place finisher Palermo, who, as Coppa Italia finalists, inherited the Coppa Italia winner’s spot (from Internazionale).

Palermo play the first leg of their Europa League 3rd qualifying round on Thursday, 28 July. The draw is on 15 July, with Palermo being in the category of seeded teams {see this}.

For Lazio and Roma, they will play in the Europa League Play-off round – to see the teams qualified so far {click here}. Draw for the Europa League Play-off round is 5 August.

One note: Juventus opens their new, 42,500-capacity stadium, temporarily being called Juventus Arena on 8 September, {see this, from Serie A official site [in Italian]}

Below is the second chart, which shows the locations of the 20 clubs in the 2011-12 season of Serie A. Listed are average attendances (home league matches), along with percent-change and percent-capacity data, from last season (2010-11).

2011-12_serie-a_attendance-data_location-map_segment_b.gif

-
Photo credits -
Milan
Photo of Milan supporters’ giant banners at San Siro originally from UltrasMilan.it, via European Ultras.com, here. Photo of interior of San Siro by Alessandro Mogliani at en.wikipedia.org, here. Photo of Massimiliano Allegri by Giusseppe Cacaace/AFP via Sports.Yahoo.com, here.
Photo of Zlatan Ibrahimović by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images Europe via Zimbio.com, here. Photo of Alexandre Pato from OleOle.com, here.
Photo of Robinho by Claudio Villa/Getty Images Europe via Zimbio.com, here. Photo of Thiago Silva by AP via DailyMail.co.uk, here.
Photo of 2011-12 Milan home jersey from forums.hardwarezone.sg, here. Exterior photo of San Siro from Kvitters.com, here.

Internazionale
Photo of Inter fans with giant banner in Curva Nord of San Siro by batrax at Flickr.com, here. Interior photo of San Siro from SanSiro.net. Exterior photo of San Siro from Kvitters.com, here.

Napoli
Photo of stands at Stadio San Paolo from StadiumVibe.com, here. Interior photo of Stadio San Paolo by Inviaggiocommons at en.wikipedia.org, here. Aerial image of Stadio San Paolo from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Udinese
Photo of Udinese fans from Getty Images via IndiaTimes.com, here. Interior photo of Stadio Friuli by Martaudine at it.wikipedia.org, here. Aerial image of Stadio Friuli from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Lazio
Photo of Lazio fans in Curva Nord by Andrea Buratti at en.wikipedia.org, here. Second photo of Lazio fans from EuropeanUltras.com, here. Aerial image of Stadio Olimpico from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Roma
Photo of Roma fans in Curva Sud of Stadio Olimpico from ASRomaLive.com, here. Interior photo of Stadio Olimpico during an AS Roma match by Gaúcho at de.wikipedia.org, here. Aerial image of Stadio Olimpico from Bing.com/maps/Bird’s eye satellite view, here.

Palermo
Photo of Palermo fans from Getty Images via IndiaTimes.com, here. Interior photo of Stadio Renzo Barbera from StadionWelt.de via FussballTempel.net, here. Aerial image of Stadio Renzo Barbera by Vito Ruggiero at Panoramio.com, here.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2011-12 Serie A‘.
Thanks to European-Football-Statistics site for attendance figures.
Thanks to Eric Gaba for the base map of Italy, ‘Italy topographic map-blank.svg‘.

October 11, 2010

Italy: Serie A, 2010-11 season – Stadia map.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 4:50 pm

serie-a2010-11_stadia_post_i.gif
Serie A 2010-11 Stadia map



(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)
___
Thanks to Eric Gaba (aka Sting), for the base map…Eric Gaba’s page -User: Sting, at Wikimedia Commons.

Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org, ‘2010-11Serie A‘ .

Photo credits -
Inter, Stadio Giusseppe Meazza [aka San Siro]: unattrributed at stretfordender.info.
Milan, Stadio Giusseppe Meazza [aka San Siro]: unattributed at zerozerofootbasll.com [incl. 30-photo gallery].

Brescia, Stadio Mario Rigamonti: unattributed at breciaoggo.it [enlarged here, in Fotogallery].

Udinese, Stadio Friuli: Bing.com/maps/bird’s eye satellite view: here.

Juventus, Stadio Olimpico di Torino: unattributed at jcf.fi.
Chievo Verona, Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Parma, Stadio Ennio Tardini: bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Fiorentina, Stadio Artemio Franchi: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Bologna, Stadio Renato Dal’Ara: Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye View [view to the west], here.

Cesena, Stadio Dino Manuzzi: Bing.com/maps/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Bari, Stadio Via del Mare: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye view [facing west], here.

Lecce, Stadio Via del Mare: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Genoa, Stadio Luigi Ferraris: camallo65 at Panoramio.com, here.
Sampdoria, Stadio Luigi Ferraris, unattributed at bigsocer.com via xiongdudu.com, here photo I used is halfway down page; on this multiple-page thread at xiongdudu.com there are lots of photos of Stadio Luigi Ferraris [which I feel is one of the few truly great stadiums which hosts top flight football in Italy].

Cagliari, Stadio Sant’ Elia, aerial photo by Cristiano Cani at Flickr.com, here.

Roma, Stadio Olimpico: asromalive.com.
Lazio, Stadio Olimpico: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view, here.

Napoli, Stadio San Paolo: Bing.com/Bird’s Eye satellite view [view to the west], here.

Palermo, Stadio Renzo Barbera: photo by daniele chiovaro at Panoramio.com, here.

Catania, Stadio Angelo Massimino: footballpictures.net.

July 23, 2010

Italy: the 3 clubs promoted from Serie B to Serie A for the 2010-11 season.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 6:46 pm

2010-promoted_italy_post_.gif


The map page shows the 3 clubs in Italy that won promotion from Serie B to Serie A, in May, 2010. Three photos of each club’s stadium are shown.

Yo-yo club Lecce are back, once again, in the Italian top flight, after having won the 2009-10 Serie B title. US Lecce are from Lecce, Apulia (population 94,000 {2009 figure}), which is near the Italian peninsula’s boot-heel tip, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Lecce first gained promotion to Serie A in 1985, but were relegated the following season, setting a pattern that stubbornly persists. Lecce got promoted back to the top tier 2 seasons later, in 1988. A 9th place finish, in 1988-89, is to this day Lecce’s highest placement. But after a three-season spell in the first division they were relegated again, in 1991. They won promotion again in 1994, but finished dead last with only 11 points in 1993-94. Back-to-back relegations saw Lecce in Serie C by 1996. Then back-to-back promotions put Lecce back in Serie A in 1997, for their fourh spell in a 13-year period. Lecce were relegated once again the following season (in 1998). Lecce bounced right back to Serie A the next year, and had another 3-year stint in the top level. That takes us to 2002. 2003 saw Lecce back in Serie A (their sixth spell in the top flight). For the third time, Lecce had a 3-season run in Serie A, and were relegated in 2006. A two-year stint in Serie B ensued, with promotion to Serie A in 2008. Relegation in 2009. Promotion in 2010. So in August, 2010, Lecce will thus begin their 8th spell in Serie A in just 25 years.

Lecce’s kit {US Lecce 10/11 kits, here (Football Shirt Culture.com)} features their retina-searing red-and-yellow-vertical-striped jerseys, which are subtly balanced off by dark royal blue pants, and a classy wolf-and-fruit-tree-in-gold-on-a-navy-shield as their crest. Only Italians could pull off red and yellow stripes and not look clownish (Ghana national team away kit notwithstanding).

Lecce dew only 12,171 per game for their last season in Serie A, in 2008-09. But during their previous 3-season spell before that, from 2003-04 to 2005-06, Lecce were drawing in the low 16,000 to high 15,000 range. So it looks like Lecce supporters are tiring of the club’s perpetual comings and goings to and from the top flight. Lecce’s stadium, the Stadio Via del Mare, capacity 33,876, has a running track. Ugh. On the map page, take a look at the middle photo of Lecce’s stadium, and that yawning gap between the stands and the pitch.

Second place in the 2009-10 Serie B was Cesena. This makes back-to-back promotions for Cesena. AC Cesena are from the small city of Cesena (population, 95,000 [2009 figure}), which is in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, 15 km. (9 miles) from the Adriatic Sea coast. Which makes me wonder why they have a seahorse in their crest, seeing as how Cesena is not actually a coastal city. Cesena drew 11,272 per game last season, which was second best in Serie B [Torino drew highest in the Italian second division. 2009-10 Italian attendance figures here (E-F-S site)]. Here is an article on Cesena’s promotion, from SoccerLens.com, ‘Cesena’s Fairytale’, by GT (2nd June, 2010).

Cesena play in the 23,860-capacity Stadio Dino Manuzzi, which is unusual for a municipal stadium in Italy in that it has no unsightly and atmosphere-deadening running track. I find it ironic that this part of Emilia-Romagna (the eastern, Romagna half), which has very little history of top-flight football, has built a municipal stadium that is pretty decent and has no running track. After all, Italy is the land of the running track stadium (rivaled only by Brazil for that dubious distinction). In Italy, it is often the case that the city, not the football club, owns the stadium. Fine. [16 of the 17 stadiums in Serie A this coming season are municipally-owned, with the exception being Rome's Stadio Ilimpico, and that is owned by the Italian National Olympic Committee.] But that is no excuse for all the god-awful running tracks ruining the atmosphere at top-flight Italian football matches. Why on earth are running tracks so necessary ? Where is the mass audience for track and field ? And it’s not like Italy has a great track-and field tradition. I mean how often do you ever see an Italian win a medal in the Summer Olympics in track and field, for crying out loud ? How on earth can the capital, Rome, allow a situation where it’s two first division clubs, AS Roma and SS Lazio, play on stadium with a running track ?

OK, digression here…here are the track and field medals from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics {click here (ESPN)}. As you can see, I am totally wrong on this, because Italy won a gold medal in race walking. So you see, it was all worth it to ruin the atmosphere in virtually half the Italian top flight football matches, for about 70 years, by having facilities with running tracks. Because there is nothing more prestigious than winning an Olympic gold medal in race walking. They don’t call race walking the Beautiful Stroll for nothing.

Third place in the 2009-10 Serie B went to Brescia. Brescia Calcio are from Brescia, Lombardy, a city of around 190,000, 82 km. (51 miles) east of Milan. Brescia are back in the top tier for the first time since 2005, which was one year after legendary Italian international Roberto Baggio retired. He had turned his back on the limelight and pressures of Milan club football (with stints at AC Milan and at Inter), to happily play out the tail end of his career for Brescia, a small and up to that point unfashionable club in the foothills of the Alps.

Here is a nice Youtube video, by iiFAZZA10 – ’10 piu bei gol di (10 beautiful goals of) Roberto BAGGIO’ [note: numbers 10, 8, 5, 3 and 2 are from Baggio's Brescia days] {click here}].

Circa 2000 to 2004, Baggio basically kept Brescia up in Serie A (Baggio scored 45 goals in 95 games for Brescia), to the point where they became popularly known as “Baggio’s Brescia”, and when he exited, the modestly supported club went straight back to Serie B the following season. Brescia were averaging in the 7,000s, in Serie B, a decade ago, and were drawing in the 15-17,000 per game range when Baggio was there, from 2000 to 2004. The club has an even smaller fan base now, averaging only 3,937 per game last season (and drew only 2,996 in 2008-09), but, like Bari and Parma last year, Brescia will probably see a large increase in attendance for their return to Serie A.

Bescia’s stadium. Stadio Mario Rigamonti has an actual capacity of 27,592, but it’s current capacity has been restricted to 16,308 (that will probably change to a higher capacity now that Brescia are back in Serie A). The stadium originally had a running track, but it was removed and grass was planted there. However, seats still remain very far away from the pitch.

For the 2010-11 Serie A season, there are 8 stadiums with running tracks, and 9 clubs playing on pitches poisoned by running tracks… Roma, Lazio, Catania, Lecce, Bari, Napoli, Bologna, Chievo Verona, and Udinese. And although the putrid orange track itself is gone at Brescia’s stadium, the huge gap between seats and pitch remains, so you would have to lump Brescia in with the other 9 running-track-afflicted clubs. By way of comparison, for the 2010-11 La Liga season in Spain, there are 3 clubs who must play on pitches ringed by running tracks, UD Alméria, RCD Mallorca, and Real Sociedad. In England, not a single Premier League stadium has a running track, and this has been the case for years. In fact, you would have to go all the way down to the Conference National, which is the 5th Level in the English football league system, to find a club playing on a pitch with a running track (the Welsh club Newport County) [note: Rotherham United and Brighton & Hove Albion play at stadiums with running tracks, but in both cases these clubs (from League Two and League One, respectively) are playing there because of stadium problems, and next season Brighton will move into a new, running track-free stadium].

Hats off to the people running things in Palermo, Cagliari and Florence (Fiorentina), because these three clubs play in stadia where the local authorities had the good sense to remove the the running tracks and build stands closer to the pitch. Heck, the folks in Palermo figured this out way back in the late 1940s, because the Stadio Renzo Barbera there had it’s running track removed and stands built closer to the pitch in 1948. Why the people who run the other Italian municipalities which have top flight representation have never seen fit to do the same for their stadiums is beyond me. Italian calcio fans deserve better than this.
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Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org and it.wikipedia.org, 2010-11 Serie A. Thanks to Eric Gaba. aka Sting, for the brilliant blank topographic map of Italy, ‘Sting’- location maps at Wikimedia.
Thanks to European-Football-Statistics.co.uk, for the attendance figures, E-F-S site. Thanks to Soccerway.com, for the final table.

September 22, 2009

Italy: 2009-10 Serie A.

Filed under: Italy — admin @ 10:07 am

(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)
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The map shows the clubs in the 2009-10 Serie A season.  It is the 78th season of the competition. Reigning champions are Internazionale.

In the gallery below are the top 6 drawing clubs from the 2008-09 Serie A season. Stadium names, locations, and their capacities are listed, along with the clubs’ average gates.

the-6-highest-drawing-football-clubs08-09-serie-a_italy_stadia_.gif
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Thanks to the E-F-S site,  for the attendance figures {click here}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at en.wikipedia.org {click here (set at Serie A 2009-10 page).   Thanks to Eric Gaba, aka Sting;  and NordNordWest,  for the map,  ’Italy relief location map’,  at wikimedia.org {click here}. 

June 23, 2009

Italy: the 3 promoted clubs at the end of the 2008-’09 season, from Serie B to Serie A.

Filed under: Football Stadia,Italy — admin @ 4:40 am

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The map shows the three clubs which have won promotion from Italy’s Serie B to the Serie A,  for the 2009-2010 season. 

Serie B winners in 08/09 were AS Bari,  the biggest club from the province of Apulia [Italian: Puglia ],  which is located in the “boot-heel” of the Italian peninsula,  on the Adriatic Sea.  Bari has spent 28 seasons in Serie A,  and are back in the top flight after an eight year absence.  The club’s last four-season spell in the top tier ended in 2000-’01;  they drew 26,415 per game in 97/98,  their first season back up.  Bari saw a 300 percent increase at the gate in 08/09 (15,345 per game) versus 07/08 (3,773 per game).  The club plays at the Stadio San Nicola,  which was built for the 1990 FIFA World Cup.  The city of Bari has a population of 320,676 (2008 figure),  and is 220 kilometers (137 miles) east of Naples.

Second place in Serie B in 08/09 were Parma FC,  who bounce straight back up to Serie A.  The club has had difficuties ever since their former owning company collapsed in the wake of the Parmalat scandal of late 2003.  But from the early 1990′s through to the early 2000′s,  the club amassed an impressive trophy haul,  with 3 Coppa Italia Titles (1992, 1999, and 2002);  2 UEFA Cup Titles (1995 and 1999);  and the 1993 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup Title.  Parma also finished in 2nd place,  just 1 point behind Juventus,  in the 1996-’97 Seria A season.  During this time period their turnstile count peaked at 25,364 per game in 1993-’94.   Parma’s average attendance their last season in Serie A (07/08) was 15,427 per game.  The city of Parma is in the region of Emilia-Romagna,  115 km. (72 mi.) southeast of Milan,  and has a population of 178,000 (2007 figure).

The third and final promotion place in Serie B in 08/09 was decided by promotion playoffs.  AS Livorno,  Brescia,  Empoli FC,  and US Grosseto competed for the qualification.  Livorno survived a 0-2 first leg deficit away to second division upstarts Grosseto,  going on to win 4-1 in the second leg.  Then the club from the Tuscan port city took a 2-2 aggregate v. Brescia and trounced them at their Stadio Armando Picchi, 3-0 last Saturday to win promotion straight back to Serie A.   Here are the highlights of Livorno 3-0 Brescia (20 June, 2009) {click here (Youtube)}.

AS Livorno are known for their considerable contingent of left-wing supporters {see this}.  Livorno have spent 16 seasons in Serie A,  with their best season being a second place finish in 1942-’43 (when they lost the title to Torino by 1 point).  The club’s high at the turnstiles was in 2004-’05,  when in their first season back in Serie A for 55 years, they averaged 15,334 per game.  But by 07/08,  when they were relegated,  Livorno were only averaging 9,901 per game.  The city of Livorno has a population of 160,000 (2007 figure),  and is 145 km. (90 mi.) southeast of Genoa.

[Note: on the map I have shown the 6 largest metropolitan ares in Italy {see this (Mongabay.com)}.

Thanks to CityDistance Tool @ Geobytes.com {click here}.   Thanks to the E-F-S site, for gate figures {click here }.   Thanks to WorldStadiums site {click here (set at Stadiums in Europe)}.   Thanks to Stadium.Football.co.uk {click here (set at European Stadiums)}.   Thanks to the contributors to the pages at Wikipedia {click here (set at Serie A 2009-10)}.

August 26, 2008

Italy: Serie A, Clubs in the 2008-09 Season (with 07/08 Final Standings Chart, and 07/08 Attendance Map.)

Filed under: Italy — admin @ 3:41 pm

(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, Category: Italy.)
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The 2008-’09 Season of Italy’s Serie A starts the weekend of 30th-31st August.  Internazionale (called “Inter Milan” by many in the English-speaking world, but by no one in Italy) are winners of the last 3 championships…one via the courts, the last two on the pitch.  But they still saw fit to sack their manager, and hire Jose Mourinho.  You can read about it in this preview (from the CNN site) {Click here).

Here are the final standings from 07/08 {Click here (Wikipedia)}.

Here are the leading goal scorers from 07/08 {Click here (ESPN Soccernet)}.

Thanks to the Colours Of Football site, for the kits {Click here}.  Thanks to football-shirts.co.uk  for the Chievo away kit.

Thanks to Demis, for the base map {Click here}.

August 22, 2008

Italy: Serie A, Clubs in the 2008-09 Season (with 07/08 attendances).

Filed under: Italy — admin @ 3:00 pm

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(Note: to see my latest map-and-post on Italian football, click on the following, category: Italy.)

Italy’s Serie A will start it’s 77th season on 30th August.  This map shows the 20 clubs in the league this season.  Club crests are sized to reflect 07/08 average attendances.

Last season,  Serie A averaged 23,180 per game.   This figure was up 25.5% from 06/07,  but this can be viewed as an expected increase,  as the pro game in Italy has recovered somewhat as the widespread fan disaffection in the wake of 05/06, and the “calciopoli” scandals wanes.   Also,  three clubs were promoted (Napoli especially) which that draw much better than the average promoted clubs. 

Whether top flight Italian football can get back to it’s peak modern gate figures, of 1991-’92, when Serie A drew 34,002, remains to be seen.  But a more reasonable goal would be the 25,400 per game that the league drew in 02/03, 03/04, and 04/05.

Thanks to Demis, for the base map {Click here}.

Thanks to European Football Statistics, for the attendance figures  {Click here}.

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