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Crowd ban triggers battle for control of Italian football grounds


ITALIAN FOOTBALL clubs this week urged local authorities to hand over ownership of their stadiums so they can invest in vital infrastructure improvements needed to overturn an order to play matches behind closed doors.

A government decree banned spectators from 25 of the country's 31 major stadiums after rioting at a Serie A game earlier this month. A police officer was killed in the violence at the game in Sicily.

Most of Italy's top football stadiums, including the Arup designed San Nicola Stadio in Bari, are owned by local authorities. The clubs rent the stadiums but must also foot the bill for security upgrades.

A spokesman for AC Cagliari which plays at Stadio Sant'Elia - one of the six stadiums to remain open to spectators - claimed stadium conditions could be better maintained in the hands of the clubs.

'All the clubs here in Italy would like to be owners of their stadiums, ' he said. 'Here in Cagliari, chairman Massimo Cellino is fighting with the municipality because he would like to build a new, smaller stadium or at least to restyle Sant'Elia, but so far the bureaucrats have prevented him' The rioting in Sicily prompted the Italian government to introduce new rules to ensure that every stadium has features such as turnstiles, numbered seats and ticketing, video surveillance and measures to restrict the movement of supporters around grounds.

Stadium designer Stephen Morley of consultant BianchiMorley and a member of the UK's Football Stadium Advisory Design Council formed after the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium disaster, agreed that investment was vital in Italy.

'There should be a greater emphasis on improving (Italian football) facilities, in particular addressing crowd safety and crowd control measures, ' he said.

'All the grounds should have been brought up to date in this way before being licensed for games to be played.' He pointed out that investment in UK stadiums in the 1990 had a proven beneficial effect on the behaviour of crowds.

Unsafe Serie A stadiums

Stadium Club Capacity Shortcomings

Ascoli Stadio Del Duca Ascoli Calcio 23,000 No turnstiles; no equipped police control room; no perimeter fence

Bergamo Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia Atalanta Bergamo 26,640 No equipped police control room.

Cagliari Stadio Sant'Elia AC Cagliari 23,386 No equipped police site; no perimeter fence Catania Stadio Angelo Massimino Calcio Catania 21,146 No perimeter fence; no security cameras.

Empoli Stadio Carlo Castelani Empoli FC 17,000 No turnstiles Firenze Stadio Artemio Franchi AC Fiorentina 47,246 No turnstiles; no equipped steward site; bench seating rows too close together.

Livorno Stadio Armando Picchi AS Livorno 19,238 No turnstiles; no equipped police control room; no perimeter fence

Messina Stadio San Filippo FC Messina 40,200 Poor ticket checking; no equipped police control room; no perimeter fence.

Parma Stadio Ennio Tardini AC Parma 27,906 Turnstiles do not meet the standards Reggio Calabria Stadio Oreste Granillo Reggina Calcio 27,454 No equipped police control room.

Udine Stadio Friuli Udinede FC 41,309 No turnstiles; no equipped police control room; no perimeter fence; poor external lighting; no security cameras

Verona Stadio M.A.Bentegodi Chievo Verona 39,211 No turnstiles; no equipped police control room; no perimeter fence.

Milano Stadio San Siro AC Milan and Inter Milan 82,955 No perimeter fence. No turnstiles until last weekend when 28 were installed to allow stadium to reopen. 60 to be installed by end of month.

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