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Money Talks in Italy (Corruption Not Included This Time)

By May 7, 2009

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Serie A was mad as hell and wasnít going to take it anymore. Apparently, the teams were tired of playing second (or indeed third) fiddle to the English Premier League and Spainís La Liga. So, much like the decision 20 English clubs made in 1992, 19 of Serie Aís 20 clubs voted to break away and form a new league.

And after the performance of the Italian clubs in European competition this season, who can blame them for changing things up? Gone is the dominance of teams like Inter, Juve, and A.C. Milan. Only Udinese this season qualified for the quarterfinals of a European tournament, and even that, that was the second-tier UEFA Cup.

A new top-flight in Italy supposedly would afford the richest clubs more autonomy and, they hope, generate even more money in the long run. In England, at least, the breakaway Premier League and its fat contract with cable television giants Sky, created nothing short of a revolution. Advertising and sponsorship revenue went through the roof and built what are now the empires of Manchester United and the rest of the big four. After that, the rich only got richer. Clubs were able to spend more on players and new grounds, slowly putting daylight between the Premier League and the rest of the continent.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Champions League semifinals were loaded with three English clubs for the second year in a row ó a terrifying sight for the other leagues on the continent.

But what will this means for those Serie B clubs who are so desperately reliant on the Serie A teamsí generosity? Serie B had no television agreement last season and counted almost exclusively on the portion of television earnings that the Serie A teams were paying the Lega Calcio to fund it. Their fate remains to be seen, but expect to see more than one of them close up shop. More than the challenging economic times, this could prove a fatal blow.


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