There are not many historic European clubs that would reduce the size of their stadium by a third, but that is exactly what the ‘Old Lady’ Juventus have done by moving out of the Stadio delle Alpi. The Stadium “of the Alps” as it was known, named after the fact that Turin lies near the European mountain range, was built for the 1990 World Cup where it held the second round tie between Argentina and Brazil, and the semi final between England and Germany. After the tournament, the 69,000 seater stadium was to be the home of both Juventus and Torino. It was to be a home both clubs would grow to loathe.
The first problem for the stadium was the running track around the outside of the pitch. It became a massive irritation for the fans that the seats were way too far from the action, and they had an added ring of sponsor boards which meant they were even further away from the game. It became the biggest factor in the stadium lacking atmosphere, and the delle Alpi was said to be a soulless place, devoid of character. Combined with the fact it was on the outskirts of Turin, unlike the previous stadium, it meant that fans were less enthusiastic about visiting the stadium every week. The consequence was that the average attendance, rather than being near its 69,000 capacity, was closer to a paltry 40,000, meaning that on most occasions the stadium was no more than two thirds full. The worst attendance came in 2001/02 season when only 237 people turned up to watch a Coppa Italia tie against Sampdoria, a damning indictment of the quality of the stadium.
This is even more remarkable considering Juventus’s fantastic success in the 16 years since the delle Alpi opened. Countless league titles, a Champions League trophy and quality players such as Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved, Gianluigi Buffon and Alessandro Del Piero playing at the club, but only 40,000 turned up to see them. It was why then that in 2006, after the match fixing trial, and their subsequent relegation to Serie B, that Juve decided to do something about the stadium problem.
They decided to move out into the temporary home of the Stadio Olimpico di Torino, and build a new home with a reduced capacity of 40,000. In a build that will cost over £100million, Juve demolished the unloved delle Alpi in February last year, to build their own purpose built football stadia on the site. Perhaps if they moved further into the centre of Turin they could build a large one but it shows the ambition of the club that they are downgrading rather than upgrading which Liverpool will do if new owners arrive. Although Juve are debt free and are reportedly offering Rafa £70million to spend on new players, is the move to Italy really a worthwhile one?
Juventus currently lie 6th in a league hardly full of rich billionaires and wealthy investors like the Premier League. The match-fixing scandal also tainted the Italian game and you could hardly say the quality of football is equally as good as in England. For me, Rafa should look past the overtures from the Old Lady, be patient and wait for new investors to arrive at Liverpool. His agent did say his stay maybe predicated on new funds for transfers, and if new chairman Martin Broughton is to be believed, this investment might only be a “few months” away. Rather stick with a club looking to expand in all areas (all revenues have increased by 55%; commercial revenues has increased by 83%; and operating profit has increased by 60% since 2007), than to go to a club trying to claw back a reputation which has deserted it in recent years, blighted by match fixing and relegation.