The num­ber of peo­ple watch­ing games in half-full are­nas on TV has also dwin­dled, due to arm­chair fans see­ing rows of empty seats

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY -

arm­chair fans turn­ing to see row upon row of empty seats and promptly switch­ing off.

As a re­sult, Ital­ian clubs’ match day in­come, from cor­po­rate hos­pi­tal­ity in par­tic­u­lar, is sig­nif­i­cantly less than in the other “Big Five” leagues. Their all-im­por­tant broad­cast­ing deal, too, is a frac­tion of what the top flight in Eng­land can com­mand.

So how have Ju­ven­tus man­aged to halt the slide? Sim­ple. They con­structed a new ground. The 41,507-ca­pac­ity Ju­ven­tus Sta­dium, built on the site of the delle Alpi at a cost of €155m, has dragged the Turin club into the 21st cen­tury. It is no co­in­ci­dence their sport­ing for­tunes have im­proved dra­mat­i­cally since.

Roma could soon ex­pe­ri­ence a sim­i­lar resur­gence. They are sched­uled to move in 2019 to the 52,000-seater Sta­dio della Roma, con­structed at a cost of €300m.

The sorry ex­pe­ri­ences of Ital­ian foot­ball should serve as a stark warn­ing to the Scot­tish game. The sport has changed be­yond recog­ni­tion dur­ing our life­times and that trans­for­ma­tion prom­ises to con­tinue. Our clubs must adapt in or­der to avoid be­ing left even fur­ther be­hind.

To that end, it is vi­tal that Aberdeen’s am­bi­tious plans for a new 20,000-ca­pac­ity, £50m sta­dium at Kings­ford, on the out­skirts of the city are ac­cepted in 2017 if they are to main­tain the progress which they have made un­der Derek McInnes in the last few years.

Aberdeen ex­tended their win­ning run to five games with a 3-0 dis­man­tling of Dundee in a Lad­brokes Premier­ship game at Pit­to­drie on Fri­day. The team are play­ing very well again and scor­ing freely and have ev­ery chance of com­plet­ing a hat-trick of sec­ond-place fin­ishes de­spite the re­turn of Rangers to the league this term.

How­ever, the meet­ing last week once again pro­vided ev­i­dence that Pit­to­drie has had its day. It is tired, run-down in places and ill-equipped to cope with the de­mands of the mod­ern game. The less said about the in­ad­e­quate sur­round­ing in­fra­struc­ture the bet­ter.

Many Dons fans are op­posed to the move and have been since leav­ing was first mooted some 15 years ago. Pit­to­drie is un­doubt­edly their spir­i­tual home, a place they love, the scene of so many of their past glo­ries. But their chances of en­joy­ing any more in the fu­ture will be se­ri­ously jeop­ar­dised by re­main­ing there. TO­MOR­ROW Nick Rodger

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