Italian football has not exactly steered clear of controversy over the past few years. 2006 saw the latest of a series of scandals in which Serie A champions Juventus were relegated to Serie B as punishment for match-fixing. AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio and Reggina were also docked points for their involvement.
And with all three of the Italian sides that made it to the knock-out stages of last season’s Champions League crashing out to English opposition for a second season running, the seemingly large gap between the leagues was presented for all to see. The famous Italian football that dominated the 90s is nothing more than a distant memory.
However, the news of Serie A’s breakaway from Serie B to form a new league, set to be introduced in July next year, could prove to be a key turning point in re-establishing the Italian league as one of the best in the world.
The decision to split from the lower league was made when the two divisions were unable to reach an agreement about how to distribute money from the leagues between each club. It has been a long-running debate, but the decision was in part fuelled by the economic downturn, with many Serie B clubs facing serious financial difficulties.
It was ultimately put to a vote, with 19 of the 20 Serie A clubs voting for the formation of the new league. Lecce were the only club in the division to vote against it, most likely because of their eventual relegation from the top-flight.
Following the decision to set up the new league, former journalist and head of Italy’s employers’ association Maurizio Beretta was instated as President of the division, and will be responsible for setting up the competition.
Top-flight clubs in Italy will be hoping that the proposed new league can bring Italy success similar to that which has graced the English Premier League since it’s separation from the Football League in 1992.
One major difference between the two leagues at present is the way in which television revenue is distributed between teams. In England, the money is split evenly between every club, meaning that each one will receive an equal fixed sum. In Italy however, it is the current Serie A clubs’ responsibility to sell their own broadcasting rights to a set of designated channels. But next year, Italy is set to revert back to the collective selling of TV rights.
It of course remains to be seen whether the formation of Italy’s new premier division can give a much needed boost to Italian football, but if engineered in the correct manner, the move could well prove to be the building blocks of success in calcio’s revival.
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