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Italian football and TV rights - A warning for us?


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Yes, yes, Italian football in crisis, not a new story. However, things could finally be reaching a head.


The basic story is this. After years of falling attendances, which are now pitifully low at most Italian clubs, the 'minnows' are fighting back.


For a couple of seasons now, every Italian league game has been available to watch live, via a pay per view system. Since loyalty to local clubs is less than it is in the UK, the big three have cemented their domination of revenues. Inter, Juve and Milan having strong support up and down the country.


With the renegotiation of TV contracts now up for grabs, there?s been a rebellion among the lesser lights, who want an end to club?s rights to sell their own games alone, and a return to collective bargaining. For example, Juve?s new contract is around 248 million euros, and the Milan clubs getting about 220 million euros each. Suffice to say, for the lesser clubs, it?s a less than 100 million each. [i?m proud to say Moratti is the only one of the big three expressing doubts about this].


Now led by Fiorentina and Sampdoria, the other clubs are threatening action, even as far as refusing to play the big three.


It?s been brought to a head by the Government, led by the genial Silvio Berlusconi, who blocked an parliamentary amendment which would have meant a more collective approach to TV contracts. Berlusconi of course has no conflict of interests either with the TV companies who will pay most to broadcast the big clubs, or with one of the big three themselves. Oh no. Get that idea right out of your head.


It looks like the UK might avoid this sad conclusion, but make no mistake, in Italy the game is almost on its knees. Uncompetitive, jaded and losing some of its public interest.

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