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