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  • Daniele Proch

Serie A Seeks Italian Government Relief, Says It Will Lose €400 Million This Season From Coronavirus

~ Original article here!

Lega Serie A, the governing body of the first tier of Italian soccer, and the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio, the organization that oversees the entire footballing landscape in Italy, have reacted to a governmental decree of October 24 that, among other things, pushed Serie A’s games once again behind closed doors.

The new decree, prompted by the recent spike in coronavirus cases in Italy and signed into law by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, overrode a September order that, until the past weekend, had allowed up to 1,000 spectators inside the Serie A stadiums.

Lega Serie A’s president, Paolo Dal Pino, and FIGC’s president, Gabriele Gravina, sent a letter to the Italian government reacting to the new protocols imposed by the decree and warning that the Italian soccer system was “at high risk of collapse,” Sky Sport reports.

In the letter, Dal Pino and Gravina point out that Serie A experienced losses of €200 million last season, mostly because the coronavirus outbreak forced games to be played behind close doors; they attributed a significant 60% of this €200 million deficit to the lack of ticketing revenue.

The financial damage is projected to be twice as large in the ongoing 2020/21 Serie A season, according to the letter. Dal Pino and Gravina argue that the losses will reach €400 million, 65% of which will be caused by the lack of match-day revenue and 35% by missing sponsorships.

According to Codacons, a renowned Italian nonprofit organization with the goal of protecting consumers’ rights, the financial impacts of the new bans and restrictions on Italian businesses will add up to €6.8 billion. The group estimates that the biggest financial repercussions will fall on the sports sector, which should see its total annual revenue drop to €7 billion, from €10 billion.

As the leader of the most popular and lucrative sport in Italy, Serie A especially will be affected by this depreciation. Dal Pino and Gravina argue that soccer, and especially professional soccer, in Italy needs immediate financial help given its fundamental contribution to the country’s economy.

“The football industry makes more than €4.7 billion a year in terms of direct earning (Serie A produces 65% of it),” the letter reads. “Serie A produces fiscal contributions for more than €1 billion a year and attracts relevant investments.”

According to Monday’s article in Italy’s daily Gazzetta dello Sport, Lega Serie A is asking the government for “adequate reforms or, at least, a suspension of their tax contributions from now until the end of the emergency.”

In the next days, all parties involved are expected to enter negotiations.

The decree will also have financial repercussions on the lower leagues of Italian soccer. Mauro Balata and Francesco Ghirelli, the presidents of Serie B (second tier) and Lega Pro (third tier), have likewise voiced their concern.

Balata argued that Serie B clubs are not receiving adequate financial help despite contributing annually to €130 million to Italy’s tax and pension system.

“We are talking about small and medium-sized businesses that give jobs to employees, suppliers, independent contractors, service managers,” Balata said, according to a Gazzetta dello Sport report from Sunday.

Balata then warned about an imminent bankruptcy if no action is taken.

“At this rate, Lega Serie B will die and the clubs will cease to exist,” he said.

Cosimo Sibilia, the president of Lega Nazionale Dilettanti, the governing body of all non-professional divisions of Italian football, expressed his desire to see the implementation of a plan that would alleviate financial pressure from all tiers of Italian football, including the amateur leagues. (With the new decree, all non-professional leagues except for Serie D, the fourth tier of Italian football, have been interrupted.)

On Monday, Italy registered 17,000 new coronavirus cases after having consistently maintained the daily tally of infections below 2,000 in September and throughout the summer.

Serie A has already experienced controversies due to the increasing spread of Covid-19 in Italy. On Oct. 4, Napoli reported a coronavirus outbreak within their squad and did not travel to Turin for the Serie A match scheduled at Allianz Stadium against Juventus. Following a decision by Lega Serie A, the Partenopei lost that game 3-0 on forfeit in what remains their only setback in this otherwise perfect start to the season.

The Bianconeri hope that they will be able to count on Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League match against Barcelona on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The Portuguese star has been in quarantine following a positive test and is waiting to receive the green light from the medical staff to rejoin his teammates.

At Inter, Roberto Gagliardini, Ionuț Radu, and Milan Škriniar are similarly waiting for a negative test result. Gianluigi Donnarumma, AC Milan’s starting goalkeeper, has recently added his name to the list of Serie A players with Covid-19 and was therefore absent in the Rossoneri’s 3-3 draw against Roma from last night.

Sky Sport reported this morning that Lazio’s Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, Manuel Lazzari, Djavan Anderson, and Andreas Pereira have not traveled with the team to Belgium and will not be available for the Biancocelesti’s Champions League match scheduled for tomorrow against Club Brugge.

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