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Italy’s economic crisis has made it harder for soccer fans to attend matches, a director of one of the country’s most popular clubs said.
The Italian economy, Europe’s second most-indebted, will shrink 2.4 percent this year as rising joblessness and austerity measures weigh on demand, according to employers’ association Confindustria.
“Our fans cannot afford to come to games because they have other priorities” as Italy grapples with the sovereign-debt crisis, Umberto Gandini, organizing director of AC Milan, told delegates yesterday at the Leaders in Football conference at Stamford Bridge in London.
Milan’s home games are played at the San Siro, the largest stadium in the country with a capacity of more than 80,000. The seven-time European Cup winner shares the facility with Inter Milan. AC Milan is averaging about 46,800 fans a game, according to ESPN’s Soccernet website. Ticket prices range from 375 euros ($485) in the Executive Lounge against current Italian champion Juventus to 20 euros in the third tier against other Serie A teams, according to the club’s website.
Italian soccer fans are increasingly choosing to watch matches at home because it’s cheaper. This leaves stadiums empty, ruining the atmosphere for spectators and television viewers, Gandini added.
Gandini said he was “little bit worried,” about the introduction of so-called Financial Fair Play regulations created by UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, that aim to punish clubs that spend beyond their means from 2014.
“Everybody is going to look at reducing costs,” he said. “And there would be no opportunities to make new investments and new growth.”
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