Serie A 'on the verge of collapse', says chief

Socially distanced Roma supporters attending their game against Juventus at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Serie A teams have been hit hard financially by a shortfall in match-day revenue due to the coronavirus. PHOTO: REUTERS
Socially distanced Roma supporters attending their game against Juventus at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. Serie A teams have been hit hard financially by a shortfall in match-day revenue due to the coronavirus. PHOTO: REUTERS

MILAN • Italy's top-flight football league has lost more than €500 million (S$800.7 million) in revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, the head of Serie A said on Monday, warning that the industry was in dire straits.

To contain the Covid-19 contagion, the government has rejected a proposal to allow more spectators at sporting events, including lifting the current limit of 1,000 spectators at Serie A football matches to fill a quarter of stadium capacity.

"As of now, Serie A is experiencing a shortfall of more than €500 million," Serie A chief executive Luigi de Siervo told state television, blaming a lack of match-day revenue and a drop in sponsorship deals. "The whole system is on the verge of collapse," he added, calling on the government to consider gradually increasing the cap on football fans at matches.

Match-day revenues account for around 11 per cent of Serie A clubs' €2.5 billion aggregated yearly revenues, whose bulk is made up by broadcasting rights sales.

But this source of income is also shrinking because broadcasters around the world respond to lower advertising revenues by cutting spending on media rights deals.

In an effort to cushion the impact of the pandemic on debt-laden clubs, Serie A is considering selling a minority stake in a newly created company handling the league's broadcasting rights for 10 seasons.

Two rival private equity consortia led by CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital are vying for a 10 per cent stake.

Serie A expects to receive final offers for its media rights by Friday, two sources said on Monday, flagging an extension of today's deadline.

The Serie A clubs are expected to meet on Oct 9 to review the bids, the sources added.

De Siervo had said earlier that the clubs would meet by Oct 10 at the latest to discuss the offers.

REUTERS

 
 
 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2020, with the headline 'Serie A 'on the verge of collapse', says chief'. Subscribe