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The Serie A restarts, few superstars and many debts

Italian champion Napoli kicks off the football season, the most beloved sport forced to come to terms with an economic landscape that is struggling to stay afloat


It's the Italian champion Napoli that opens the 122nd edition of Serie A, the 92nd in a single-group format, on the field of newly promoted Frosinone. As has been the case for many years, teams begin the season with their squad still to be finalized: the summer transfer window closes on September 1st, and until that moment, the dynamics can change.

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Un post condiviso da SSC Napoli (@officialsscnapoli)

The club that has been the most active is undoubtedly Milan: the sale of Tonali to Newcastle for 70 million - never before had an Italian player been sold for so much - allowed the club to set up a series of operations that brought eight high-level players to Milan.

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Un post condiviso da AC Milan (@acmilan)

For now, the superstars have remained where they were: many good players have arrived, but none who could become the likes of Ronaldo or Messi. The variation that occurred during the summer was the influx of money into the European market from Saudi Arabian clubs. Attracted by the extravagant salaries offered by sheikhs, they have left the old continent with champions like Benzema, Neymar, and, as far as we are concerned, Milinkovic Savic and Brozovic.

Crushed by debts and an increasingly unsustainable financial situation, Serie A, although remaining one of the country's top ten industries, is trying to stay afloat while grappling with the difficulties that the three Covid seasons have exacerbated. Yet our top-tier football has numbers that, with careful planning, could pave the way out of the crisis. There are 34 million Italians, 57 percent of the population, enamored with football, and 1.4 million registered members of the FIGC (Italian Football Federation).

Football remains a driving force: it generates a total of direct revenues that exceed 5 billion euros, and it's estimated that the overall impact on GDP reaches 11 billion euros. In the post-Covid period alone, it's calculated that 126,000 jobs have been created within the 12 product sectors embraced by the system, ranging from communication to tourism, transportation, catering, sports medicine, culture, clothing, video games, infrastructure, betting, services, television, and advertising.

Yet the system is on its knees: the revenues from TV and radio rights cannot suffice, stadium receipts represent a too small share, and labor costs are skyrocketing, to the extent that the overall indebtedness has surpassed the threshold of 5.6 billion. The construction of privately owned stadiums could breathe new life into the clubs, but the bureaucracy that poisons the country hampers any such operation.

In such a problematic scenario, the referees are preparing to blow the starting whistle, and Italians are getting ready to attend matches in the height of summer. This year, the top contender is Napoli, which has lost Spalletti (the upcoming national team coach after Mancini's departure) but has made few changes and is fully aware of its strong team. Behind them are Lazio, second in the past season and bolstered by the Sarri guarantee, Inter, which objectively weakened due to the departure of Onana, Brozovic, Skriniar, Dzeko, and Lukaku, Juventus, with Lukaku waiting in the wings, but the outcome remains uncertain, Milan with its eight new faces, and Roma, which continues to play with a double ace up its sleeve: a consistently packed Olimpico stadium and Mourinho.

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Un post condiviso da AS Roma (@officialasroma)

On the field, our teams know how to move: last season, we had three finalists, Inter, Roma, and Fiorentina, in the three European cups. We didn't win any of them. However, we had our fun.



Illustration by Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios