Italian FA chief says curbing transfer excesses after pandemic damage
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Rome (AFP) –
Italian football chief Gabriele Gravina says the country's FA has approved regulations that will stop clubs from overspending on transfers in an attempt to reverse the deep financial problems exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an interview with AFP, Gravina said the football federation (FIGC) has given the green light to a ceiling on clubs' transfer outlays which stops them spending more money than their previous season's budget and is aimed at tackling "the continued indebtedness of clubs".
"The federation is doing its part by adopting rules which encourage clubs to be more prudent than in the past," Gravina said.
His comments come after the FIGC estimated last week that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused revenues in Italian professional football to plunge by a billion euros ($1.2 billion), while the country's three biggest clubs -- Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan -- signed up to the ill-fated European Super League project on the promise of financial advantages.
"The Super League is the wrong answer to a real problem: to make European football more competitive, we need to create more stability," Gravina said.
"But increasing income is not the only solution, we also need to contain costs. I'm hoping for a deep discussion between UEFA, the clubs and national federations about making the game more sustainable."
The pandemic has laid bare the gap between the Premier League clubs in England, Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain in France and the rest of Europe.
Spending by Italy's top clubs this summer has been reasonably modest as they try to grapple with their damaged finances, with financial experts Deloitte saying Serie A's net spend was 50 million euros compared to half a billion euros in England.
AC Milan spent 75 million euros on 11 players, the last of whom -- Junior Messias -- arrived on a season-long loan with a five-million-euro option to buy from Serie B side Crotone, after a long rise through amateur football and a period transporting fridges to earn a living.
Italian champions Inter Milan responded to nearly 200 million euros worth of sales by spending just 36 million in the summer window, with Juventus laying out even less, although both clubs structured important arrivals such as Manuel Locatelli and Joaquin Correa in such as way as to push the bulk of the cost into future financial years.
- Azzurri example -
Nonetheless Gravina says clubs should be more focused on developing players who can then play for Italy's revitalised national team, who after winning Euro 2020 return to action on Thursday as they bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
"The crisis generated by the pandemic will be an opportunity to invest mainly in coaching and to make more use of young players who can be selected for our national teams," says Gravina.
"Some great players have left, but football remains a team sport and some coaches express themselves better when they can't rely on individual stars.
"The national team is an example of this, with players who put themselves at the service of the game and show that they know how to play together."
Gravina wants Roberto Mancini's side to build on their Euro success in Qatar after missing out on the 2018 World Cup in what Gravina calls "the darkest period in our contemporary history".
"We have to qualify. The victory at Wembley can't let us forget that at the end of 2017 we missed that target," he says.
"The rebuilding project has already brought big results, but we have to continue that work because we want to arrive in Qatar among the favourites."
© 2021 AFP