Friday, April 03, 2020
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Ronaldinho’s winner for Milan against Napoli, late on Sunday night, brought to an end another exciting round of fixtures in Serie A. Jose Mourninho courted the usual controversy by fraternsing with a disabled fan, as Inter won 3-2; and Claudio Ranieri’s Juventus notched up their fourth straight win since beating Real Madrid in the Champion’s League.

Ironically, whilst in the mid-nineties Serie A was the only free-to-air football on British TV screens, it is now inaccessible. With Sky snapping up the glitz and glamour of the prime Premier League fixtures and Spain’s La Liga, Setanta has mopped up with the best of the rest with the Premiership cast-offs along with the French, German and Dutch Leagues.

Serie A remains uncovered, although Channel 5 were close to renewing last season’s deal. Unfortunately negotiations broke down with problems stemming from 2007’s decision to allow Italian teams to sell their own individual TV rights. 

Shoddy production values by Italian broadcasters, resulting in cheap looking programme packages, are thought to have had some bearing on Sky and Setanta’s reluctance to step up to the plate. 

The lack of desire by any broadcaster to pull out the stops to get the coverage reinforces the view that Italian football is in the doldrums. 

Authorities in Italy have failed to deal with hooliganism, and instances of politically charged violence by fans are commonplace. The shooting dead of a fan by police last year has left an indelible mark.

Many clubs have also been beset by monetary worries, only to have them exasperated by the global financial crisis. Serie A’s lack of commercialisation in comparison to the Premier League and La Liga has meant team cannot compete on an even footing with their continental rivals. 

In spite of its problems, the lack of Serie A football on our screens is a real loss. The league is unquestionably one of the top three in Europe, Milan are World Champions with three Balon d’Or winners in their side(Shevchenko, Ronaldinho and Kaka), and the indomitable Jose Mourinho is there for comic relief. 

There is hope, however, in the form of a white marketing knight on the horizon - the solution to any commercial quagmire. It can be assumed that when David Beckham pulls on the Milan shirt, over-hyped, comprehensive coverage of Serie A will be blaring out of our screens somewhere. 

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