Italian league may split in two

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The Italian League is on course to split in two after a meeting of Serie A and Serie B presidents yesterday ended without agreement over future financial arrangements.

"Nineteen Serie A clubs have discussed starting a 'Serie A League'," a League statement said. "The decision has been taken given it has been impossible to reach an agreement with Serie B clubs."

The second-tier clubs have been at loggerheads for years with their Serie A counterparts over how wealth is divided within the League. Several Serie B clubs have recently encountered financial problems and a split from Serie A may make their situations worse. Serie B did not have a television deal last season and only managed an agreement shortly before the start of this campaign. Only one Serie A club, widely believed to be Lecce, was not part of the talks.

The League statement said that Maurizio Beretta, the former head of Italy's employers' association, had been proposed as the new president of a breakaway Serie A after League incumbent Antonio Matarrese failed to find consensus over a way forward.

"This time it's for real. It's not satisfactory but it was necessary," said the Palermo president, Maurizio Zamparini.

In England the Premier League broke away from the Football League in 1992 and has gone on to become the richest in the world. Serie A clubs have watched with envy as English sides have dominated the transfer market and the Champions League in the last two seasons.

Milan's chief executive, Adriano Galliani, has been among the most vocal about Serie A's problems and the need to close the gap on England. Italian clubs do not own their stadiums, normally renting them from their local authorities, meaning they lose out on revenue. Juventus are making a radical departure by building their own stadium on the site of their former ground, the Stadio delle Alpi.