Save Italian football, save it without Gravina

Insolvency administration without an appeal.

Italian football is in turmoil, as is President Gabriele Gravina. The number one of national football, from his premises in via Gregorio Allevi, is facing a dark and complex time to say the least. Roberto Mancini handed in his resignation as coach of the national team in a bolt from the blue, erasing one of Gravina’s few certainties. Added to this is the strain of the resignations of Nicolato from the U21s, who was replaced by Nunziata, and of women’s football coach Milena Bertolini. Three internationals who lost their technical lead in the space of a monthwhere Gravina and his staff were called upon to fix the problem.

The FIGC had never seen oneit was so gloomy.

Given the fact of missing two World Cup qualifiers in a row, an unimaginable fact for our football, the European had indeed given confidence and breathing space with this miraculous Italian victory, but then the knots inevitably collapsed: hence the resignation a scrutineer A little over 20 days after two tricky matches for the next European Championship (and the call-ups are yet to be announced). All despite the – crazy – move to give Mancini full power at U20 and U21, a desperate attempt to keep him at the top by dodging doubt and the increasingly beguiling sound of Arabian sirens.

fact is that Gravina management is no longer able to hide its cracks. Italian football is going under. The television rights market is no longer attractive, while the balance sheets are increasingly in the red 5.6 billion of total debt (a frightening number). Every year, Serie B and Lega Pro experience great difficulties at the time of registration due to the economic situation of the small provincial clubs that only survive thanks to the economic sacrifices of their owners. Not to mention Serie A, which is in debt and whose economic power is declining every year.

In short, an image that recreates the failure of Gravina management at the helm of a national football in deep crisis. Also because the reforms, starting with those that can no longer be postponed at the championships, never arrived, remained only on paper from election programs and are dusted off like political slogans in difficult times.Mancini’s resignation was the tip of the iceberg at the time, but the truth is, and we’re sorry to shoot the Red Cross The President of the FIGC has failed in everything.

The management of the former patron of Castel di Sangro has caused more horrors than that of Tavecchio: from the failed qualification for the World Cup in Qatar to the Juventus case – and the relative penalty, modified and agreed according to expediency -, of the above-mentioned failures of the national team (with the exception of the U20) to the problems with the registrations in Serie B and Lega Pro, which cannot be stopped and which, in fact, every year confuse the championships, creating more and more paradoxical situations.

TOThe football report provided by the FIGC is then analyzed data of concern: Since 2018, around 87 million euros are missing in revenue from the fans entering the stadiums, which illustrates the dissatisfaction of a large part of the public towards Italian football. While the amount was €341m in 2018, the latest report puts total club revenue at €254m. Another fact that should not be underestimated is concerns total debt which touches the record value of professional football.

Compared to the previous football season, this has increased by 239 million euros (+4.4%) and is now enclosed 5.6 billion.

If we look at the smaller leagues, the situation gets even grimmer. In the period 2021-2022 a strong increase in Series B net loss, which reached 268.2 million euros, doubling the 134.3 million in 2020-2021. From a financial point of view, the debt continues to increase, reaching 525.4 million (an increase of 148.5 million compared to 2020-2021). Club capitalization also fell, with equity falling into negative territory for the first time in ReportCalcio’s analyzes (1997-1998 onwards), reaching -27.8m (compared to +51m from 2020-2021). .

Lega Pro isn’t improving either. On a financial level, debt is increasing, which averages out at almost per company 3.4 million euros, an increase from 2.6 of the pre-season and equity falls back into negative territory of around 0.1 million. Without considering that from 2018 to date we have seen the disappearance of 20 professional clubs between Serie B and Serie C.

But it is also about revitalizing and empowering national actors, a key issue that comes to the fore all the more after the two world exclusions, a terrain against which the ineffectiveness of federal politics is measured. Compared to the top 31 European leagues, Italy even ranks third in terms of the playing time of foreign players (61.7%). finally for the use of players trained in the youth sector of their own clubs (only 8.4%).

A figure that illustrates how much the growth decree issued by the government in 2019 and initially supported by Gravina, was a boomerang for national football that, instead of promoting the improvement of the “local product”, pushed the clubs to foreign companies to acquire players. What does Gravina have to do with it you will say? It has to do with the fact that the association initially supported the measure, but later recognized the problem, according to Gravina and his employees They asked for the changebut without finding the positive opinion of the big Serie A clubs. The damage was done now.

Not to mention the other reforms – promised but never received, never voted on and locked in some federal drawer – or the candidacy for Euro 2032, where Gravina first proposed Italy, pointing to decrepit structures, and then the support Turkey to win Recep Tayyip Erdogan and avoid bad impressions in the betting phase. Speaking of structures, let’s consider that today there is between Serie B and Lega Pro 7 clubs (Catanzaro, Feralpisalo, Reggiana, Monterosi, Sorrento, Sestri Levante, Lecco) without suitable sports facilities and forced to play km away if not in other regions.

We’re just thinking about it Catanzarowhich the Lecce Stadium (400 km away) has earmarked for its home games while awaiting the completion of the works on the Ceravolo Stadium.

Therefore, it is also necessary to remember it Failure of women’s football. A movement that was already in crisis before it began. Clubs were forced to set up young women’s teams to avoid financial penalties from the federation – and their costs rose as professionalism was introduced to the big teams. The Azzurri did not promote them to the top of football at the time of their exit. The harsh press release that appeared on the players’ social profiles, in addition to reaffirming the responsibility of coach Bertolini, also underlined the indifference of the FIGC, which is regularly absent from sporting events.

But what is most intolerable is the fact that Serie B and Lega Pro start the championship with some Xs on the calendar Waiting for the beacons of hope to be laid down. A chaos caused by the ambiguity of the rules and the constant overlapping of ordinary justice with sports justice, leaving the leaders of the FIGC defenseless and the result of a global embarrassment that vividly depicts the convergence and chaos of our football.

Getting back to the beginning, Mancini’s resignation was not only the straw that broke the camel’s back, but also a vase that was already well filled. And for Gravina, they represented significant damage to its image and credibility, as pointed out by Aurelio De Laurentiis who, certainly with classic arrogance, but not exactly unfairly in this case, sharply criticized the Football Association’s number one who asked him to do so

Get out of the dimension of amateurism“.

«As far as the federation is concerned, the most surprising thing for me is that a few weeks before two very important games for the national team we arrive with the resignation of coach Roberto Mancini. Here you are There are two main considerations to make: You do not know how to maintain relationships with your employees, causing them to resign; There is a lack of legal instruments capable of refusing them and establishing compliance with the signed contracts, including by setting specific penalties».

For this reason, in our small way, we ask Gravina for a gesture that can help Italy to grow: resign. And that CONI, in order to get out of the swamp, has also made itself heard by President Malagò, that Minister Abodi has also intervened decisively, who, although unable to proceed with (albeit often clear and acceptable) explanations in the newspapers, does so instead called to close Gravina before it’s too late. Because Italian football, a sector that accounts for 10.2 billion of the national GDP, is falling. And every year that goes by it just gets worse.

Cover art by Felice D’Amore

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