Thursday, February 08, 2007

And Away We Go

Today, there are three developments to get to regarding the Italian game. First, the country's Interior Ministry, charged with finding out which grounds meet new security requirements, have given a clean bill of health to only six Serie A stadiums. Rome’s Olimpico, Genoa’s Marassi, the Artemio Franchi in Siena, Cagliari’s Sant’Elia, the Barbera in Palermo, and the Olimpico in Turin all made the cut. This means that all league matches in those stadiums will be played in front of the fans, and inversely, all of those left off the list will play their matches behind closed doors.

That left the next move to the club presidents, who threatened to strike if the "closed stadiums" rule was put into effect. It seems that they've come to their senses and decided to accept the government's ruling. The clubs left off the OK list will now focus their energies on getting their stadiums up to code as soon as possible. For some, it could be only a matter of weeks. For others, the necessary improvements might not be ready until the beginning of next season.

The third issue, that remains unsolved for the time being, concerns the clubs that are still in competing in Europe. Livorno host a UEFA Cup match next Wednesday, while Parma do the same on February 22nd. In the Champions League, Valencia travel to Milan to take on Inter on February 21st and Milan host Celtic on March 7th.

As I write this, Milan and Inter are starting to think of contingency plans if the San Siro isn't ready to allow fans in. Inter might host their match in Genoa or Palermo, while Milan might go outside of the country. Geneva and Newcastle are possible venues for the Rossoneri.

The following fixtures will be played in empty arenas this weekend:
Serie A
Atalanta v. Lazio
Chievo Verona v. Inter
Fiorentina v. Udinese
Messina v. Catania
Milan v. Livorno

Serie B
Brescia v. Bari
Napoli v. Piacenza
Pescara v. Mantova
Triestina v. Treviso
Lecce v. Verona
Modena v. Albinoleffe
Six stadiums get green light [Channel 4]
Clubs agree to play – official [Channel 4]
Milan duo plan Champions move [Channel 4]


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