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What Happened To Serie A?

It's no secret that Serie A’s UEFA coefficient has been in decline for over 15 years. The UEFA coefficient, used to determine how many teams from each domestic league are entered into competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League, is based on the European success of a club within the last five years.

According to the current UEFA rankings, only one Serie A team even cracks the world’s top 15, Juventus coming in solidly at the number five spot. When expanded to the top 25, only three Serie A sides are included, Napoli at 16 and Fiorentina at 24. It has gotten to the point where even Italy’s former coach, Antonio Conte, believes that Serie A is no longer one of the world’s top leagues.

So, who does Conte believe plays the best soccer? In an interview with Fifa magazine, Conte stated: “I think the best football matches are currently being played in England.”

He went on to say that after England "there's Spain and Germany, but Serie A comes after. The Italian league is in fourth place and there's no way out of that. It's not an issue of being sad or not, it's simply the truth.”

To rub salt in the wounds, he continued, “before it was different. [Serie A] was one of the most beautiful championships of the world.”

These are powerful words from the coach who won five Scudettos as a player with Juventus between 1995 and 2003 and three more as a coach.


So what happened to Serie A? For one, according to Conte there has been a serious lack of investment from the league’s owners. “Today the club owners are not willing to invest so much in their teams. There is simply a lack of money.”

In the case of Milan’s previous owner, Silvio Berlusconi (worth $6.1 billion), he wanted his Milan side to be self sustaining but refused to invest the money to build a stadium that would allow the club to thrive.

This is another factor in the downfall of Serie A — the stadiums. Some of the most iconic stadiums in Italy are too old, too expensive and way too large. Due to the high ticket costs and lack of renovations, stadiums like the San Siro are rarely filled as it’s hard to find 80,000 fans that want to pay to watch their lackluster team play from beyond a running track.

Another problem with the stadiums is that many are city owned. This cuts into the profit clubs make. Teams have tried building their own stadiums, and while some have been successful (Juventus), other teams have run into so many problems they have given up all together (AC Milan).

Another example of this is Roma. Their American owner has been trying unsuccessfully to get the city’s approval for a new stadium with surrounding restaurants, entertainment and, very importantly in Rome, sufficient parking.

Getting these stadiums built is incredibly important, as Juventus’ stadium, completed in 2011 and owned entirely by Juventus, has brought home a whopping €194m in revenue since its inauguration in 2011. Compared to Milan and Inter, who each pay the city council 4.1 million euros annually just to use the San Siro, it's an incredibly important source of revenue.

So will Serie A ever rebound?

Many clubs have plans in place follow Juventus’ lead and downsize to smaller stadiums owned by the clubs themselves, including Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina, Atalanta and Sampdoria.

Maybe this will be the turning point for Serie A, and, in combination with the Milan clubs new ownership, we might eventually see Serie A regain its fourth Champions League spot.

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