Scaroni: “Our Serie A has become a Serie B when compared with the other major leagues, a boring and less exciting product is difficult to sell, stadiums…”

18
Paolo Scaroni talking to the press. (@acmilan.com)

Paolo Scaroni has explained in detail why Serie A and Italian football is so far behind and also commented on the stadium situation of Milan.

Milan President Scaroni sat down with Matteo Matzuzzi of the newspaper il Foglio, discussing the crisis of Calcio.

“Our Serie A has become a Serie B when compared with the other major European leagues. They have all overtaken us, or almost all, in the last 20 years,” he said.

Italian football was once the best in Europe but those days are long gone. And for Scaroni, unless something happens quickly then the decline will continue. Milan are back to winning on the domestic scene, but to be competitive in Europe, Italian football needs to improve as a whole.

“The world of football, like any other industrial, commercial or entertainment sector, is made up of products and the ability to sell him. Consequently, we must present a product that is liked. Football is indeed a sport, but it is also a spectacle and a show requires a beautiful and possibility well-illuminated stadium, always full of fans, modern, neither too big nor too small.”

Paolo Scaroni on September 21, 2021. (@acmilan.com)

Looking at the stadium situation in Italy, one can see that the average age of arenas in Italy is 74 and they are normally half-empty. COVID certainly contributed but even before the pandemic, Serie A was 9th in Europe in terms of attendance and the stadium coverage did not each 60%. Last season in the Premier League, coverage was 96.1%.

“Not only do we have more empty stadiums, but since we also have older ones then we are unable to collect money through the ancillary activities that revolve around the stadium. Just think that the combined stadium revenues of Milan and Inter in 2017/18 and 2018/19 [total of €157 million] are lower than those of Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United when considered individually.”

The numbers of fans to have visited San Siro during the 2021/22 season shown during Milan-Atalanta at Stadio San Siro on May 15, 2022. (@acmilan.com)

And this is without talking about TV money, which has become a huge player in world football. “We see disproportion both in terms of national TV rights but even more so in terms of international TV rights. From these we collect €200m a season, while the Premier League €2 billion a year; 10 times as much. Since money is the engine of the show – the players cost – the comparison is easy: we enter a vicious cycle that leads our football to consistently decline.”

In Italy therefore there is less money from TV rights and less revenues from stadiums: “The net result is that the product we offer is poor: without Messi and Mbappé, simply because we cannot afford them. And if we continue like this, we will move further and further away from the excellent of football.”

To Scaroni, the problem of stadiums is evident: “We can take the best opera singers in the world, but if we then make them sing in a barn instead of at La Scala, then there’s a big difference. Building infrastructure in Italy is a dramatic problem: people say they have nothing against it, as long as it’s far away. On stadiums, a major effort was made with the 2013 law, which was to take away, at least to a large extent, the ability of municipalities to veto the construction of new facilities and to encourage the development of volumes for tertiary activities connected to the stadium. In reality, looking closely at this law, it turns out that this is not the case.”

Populous’ design for the New Milano Stadium. (@acmilan.com)

Milan and Inter have for years been engaged in discussions with the municipality to build a new stadium in the San Siro area: “Now the referendum will take place – a procedure that will take a year. We understand each other? There are all the approvals, everyone agrees and the referendum must also be held… very well, this is the law and we want to respect the law, God forbid. But why did the 2013 law not provide for this constraint to be eliminated? And then there are the appeals to the TAR [Regional Administrative Court] which, even if they are won, will lead to further delays. And while we wait, the world goes on.”

In the last decade, 153 stadiums have been built in Europe – of which only 3 in Italy: “In the same period 3 stadiums were built only in London, so to speak. We have encountered a series of objections also from football fans, who evidently do not grasp the fact that a stadium is a fundamental ingredient of the show. But why are the British building stadiums with 60k seats and not 100k seats? Because they are worried that if you don’t play a game that is not the main-event then the stadium will be half-empty. And no one, precisely out of respect for the spectacle, wants half-empty stadiums.”

Paolo Scaroni and BMW’s Massimiliano Di Silvestre signing a sponsorship contract. (@acmilan.com)

Scaroni understands that to make the show a bigger spectacle, changes on the pitch are also needed: “The show must be made up of a lot of playing and few interruptions. I’ll give you just one example: Milan-Udinese last February ended with 45 minutes and 38 seconds of effective play from overall 97 minutes of the match. So it’s all boring. Referees must also contribute, perhaps avoiding frequent interruptions that have no equal in other leagues: fouls are the second most common cause of interruptions in international football at 14.8%. In Serie A, we reach over 15%, while in the Premier League it’s 12.5%. In short, the referee should be more sensitive to the fact that he is an integral part of the show. He should try to reduce the wasted time: from the postponement of goalkeepers, to throw-ins, up to the resumption of play after fouls [there are 27.6 fouls per game in Serie A, while in the Champions League there are 25.2 and in the Premier League 21.5] which takes place on average 32.4 seconds. But it’s not me saying it, just turn on the TV to realize it. A boring and less exciting product is difficult to sell on the international market.”

But is there awareness of the state of things in Lega Serie A? “The numbers I’ve quoted are known to all Italian clubs. We are discussing how to sell our rights in the United States, China and Australia. We always talk about it. It is essential to have an organization to be present there, but we must be aware – and I repeat – that the product must be improved. It is one thing to have a product and it’s quite another to be able to sell it. If we want to sell our product in China and the United States then we must also get out of the somewhat rural dimension of our football and change the times of some matches: if we schedule the key match at 21:00 in the evening then they don’t watch it in Beijing.”

Paolo Scaroni and Stefano Pioli during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Everything has to be changed, also the merchandising: “The Italian stadiums are surrounded by stalls run by gentlemen who should be fined for doing something illegal. It’s another economic damage for football teams. We need to set up a business capable of standing on its feet: the era of patrons, Moratti’s and Berlusconi’s, is over. That world wouldn’t even be possible anymore with the constraints of Financial Fair Play. A business is on its feet if there’s a full stadium, if you see shirts in the stands that are not counterfeit, if the businesses around the stadium have a chance to develop. The show goes beyond the hour and a half of the match, as seen in England.”

While reaching the heights of the Premier League seems unattainable at this moment, Scaroni concedes that “we are also losing ground compared to Spain and Germany. From foreign TV rights, La Liga collects €897m per season, we – like we said – just under €200m. Then we ask ourselves why we haven’t won a Champions League for 12 years and a phenomenon player has not come to us. Obviously, the phenomenon player goes to the Premier League where the stage is world-wide. In Italy, the stage is only Italian.”

Paolo Scaroni before Atlético Madrid-Milan at Estadio Metropolitano on November 24, 2021. (@acmilan.com)

Scaroni ended the interview by talking about stadiums again, specifically on the new Milan stadium. In addition to the San Siro area, there is also the possibility of building in the Sesto San Giovanni area.

“The first site that gives us the right light – we take it. As for the San Siro area, I’m fairly optimistic. Of course, when in November, after a long discussion, we decided to lower the volumes of non-stadium businesses, the last thing I would have imagined was that it would take another year to wait for the referendum. Thus, it becomes a very complicated path, moreover common to all of Italy. I would say, citing my previous experiences, that building a stadium in Italy is like making – again in Italy – a regasification.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
18 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Calm down

Thank you President. One of the best ever assessments of Italian football. I’ve hardly been impressed by any idea of improving the sport in Italy. They say “we can’t compete with the others” but without trying to compete.

Gbenga AJOSE

The idea of building a stadium now is nonsense if we can not sustain the current level of success and even improve on it. I understand that we can’t spend money recklessly but the attitude of this new owner is not encouraging at all. The directors who undoubtedly contributed significantly to our current success are yet to have their contract renewed. Even if we haven’t signed all our targets, I expect sanchez and Botman Purchase to have been closed by now while we await signing of right winger and No 10. Leao contract renewal is still pending.What is really going… Read more »

SJF

Its becoming an increasingly worrying situation.
New owners usually signal intent with an early exciting purchase.
These owners are signaling confusion.

Oluwa Shevy

Let’s give them till the end of this month maybe there are trying to balance and strategies just saying but I know for sure players will come in

Gbenga

Hnmm. Till month end when predators are lurking around trying to snatch our long time targets under our nose ? I understand your point but the bereaucracies associated with this takeover is irritatingly getting to long. Any serious purchase of solid players should be this transfer window because the first leg of the season is when u can usually take in points easily. The second half is always turf. By now, we should have sealed deal for for the right wing at least. I don’t know why MIlan clubs always go to sleep when they win the league. Inter won… Read more »

Oluwa Shevy

Bro I can say we different from inter this is a new era for Milan new take overs new owners I feel there need time to put things in place starting from extending contracts situation I know all this are in progress trust me that’s why I say this month things will at-list fall in place. What I won’t like is panic buy that’s why I want them to take their time so we can have quality players that will continue from our progress of last season finger crossed

Oluwa Shevy

This take over is actually a mess I must confess what’s going on other teams are strengthening Milan is still doing what I dont understand

Dan Ban

We are serie B . He’s investing as if it were serie B . Rumors say we only have 40m budget. When Chelsea, Liverpool and even Leicester, west Ham, etc spend much more and work that much faster then yes, serie B.
We are stuck in rumors and it’s worrisome

Ted

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This RedBird takeover has all the footprints of Lille takeover when Elliott sold the majority shares to some shady group as well. After winning Ligue 1, everything collapsed. New owners don’t have money to sustain a football club, sporting director left, coach left and they are selling their prized assets cutprice.

philldadon1899

Didn’t you also say Maldini didn’t know what he was doing?

Yeah you were totally right. What’s going on right now is finding the right numbers. That’s all. Its quite apparent you have never been involved in anything resembling a takeover or a large sale. This isnt selling a house. There are a lot of moving parts.

Ted

@philldadon1899 you must’ve confused me with someone else. Not hard when you are in conflict with half of the blog.

Won’t oppose your opinion about takeover. But you clearly don’t understand how hedge funds work. Everyone has their own opinion and view on the situation. You don’t like it? Your problem. I do hope you’ll be right in the end. But right now it doesn’t seem so.

Last edited 12 days ago by Ted
philldadon1899

Im not in conflict with half of the board. Just the ones who were whining and complaining about Maldini at the beginning of the season, again in January etc. The ones who said that our captain was in over his head and had no idea what he was doing. Those people. Yes. I have conflict with. Because even though they were proven wrong. They still continue. And maybe i dont know how hedge funds work. I do however know how takeovers work as I deal with it daily, and it isnt as simple as signing papers. Hence why it wont… Read more »

SJF

This is not the first club takeover!
No it doesn’t need to take months once agreed. This is just the formula that allows Elliott maximum control and return.

Chelsea who are a far more valuable club in much more complicated situation have been sold, deal done. Ready to sign players. As has been the case in any other takeover i can remember.
So Elliott have “sold” the club but it wont be “sold” until September, its a complete mess

philldadon1899

Who has chelsea “Signed”? They loaned lukaku. Thats all I have seen them do.

SJF

Elliott only care about money!
They may have enjoyed the scudetto win and even celebrated it, but thats just human nature.
They did a good job getting the club back on a sound footing, so they could sell it for huge profit.
Now we have Red Turd. No clarity on transfer budget, renewal of players not done, renewal of directors not done (contract runs out in 1 week).
No wonder Maldini got pissed off.
Its very sad situation for fans, who should be enjoying scudetto glory and dreaming of a strong run in Europe

Ted

Some people need to understand that hedge funds are only after return on investment. That’s how they operate. Considering Elliott’s past business in football world, I’m not optimistic. However, I hope they prove me wrong in the end.

SJF

We all hope things go well, however Maldini has put things best when he said the 3 year cycle is over, now we need to take the next step… The reason this is so important right now is he realises that if we stand still we will lose our best young players to more ambitious clubs. He knows we are 3 or 4 signings from being very competitive in Europe and dominant in Italy. This is a watershed moment for the club, are we a Dortmund or a Bayern It reminds me of 2001/2002 Milan signed Rui Costa, Inzaghi and… Read more »