Italian soccer boss calls for share of betting proceeds for beleaguered game
Italian soccer should be entitled to a proportion of revenue from betting on the sport as it looks to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to federation head Gabriele Gravina.
The top-tier Serie A and other Italian leagues are presently suspended amid the health emergency, and the ensuing fall in revenue is prompting clubs to have to cut costs and employees.
Italy has been the European country most affected by the pandemic, with almost 12,500 deaths as of yesterday.
As part of the ‘salva calcio’ (‘save football’) funding proposal, Gravina (pictured), the president of Italian soccer’s FIGC, claims it would be fair to demand 1 per cent of betting revenue.
He told Radio Cusano TV: “We can't ask the government for money because we know very well that there are other priorities right now. However, we ask for the establishment of the fund. With resources from the FIGC, which will make important sacrifices right now, and resources that must come from betting.”
Gravina added: “There is a European Union resolution that says that copyright on betting must be protected. France already applies 1 per cent and the NBA is asking for the same thing.”
If this were applied to the calendar year of 2019 then the figure claimed by the FIGC would be in excess of €100 million ($110 million).
As part of efforts to safeguard the future of the domestic sport, the Italian soccer authorities have called on the government for new provisions, potentially including a lifting of the ban on gambling and betting firms sponsoring sports teams.
This came after a Deloitte study showed that the stoppage of soccer in light of the pandemic could cost Italian soccer as much as €1 billion.
Serie A has played 26 of 38 rounds of fixtures, and the report found that if this season was to be halted permanently, there will be a direct hit on the league of €720 million.
That reduces to €170 million in the event that this season is completed.
In 2018, Italy's coalition government signed the Dignity Degree, which outlawed all forms of gambling advertising and meant Serie A clubs would be deprived of lucrative deals.
In January 2019, clubs were told that they could honour existing commitments to gambling sponsors up until the end of the 2018-19 season, but that all collaboration would have to stop after that.
Earlier this week, Gravina said that the Italian leagues were still committed to finishing their seasons, with a potential restart in May, but admitted that timeline might be optimistic.
He told the Corriere della Serra newspaper: "It depends on the virus. Our plan is clear, to respect the value of sporting competition. The goal is to finish the leagues, and to get to the [final] standings.
"We understand that starting again in May will be difficult, but we can go as far as July. We are trying to adapt the situation to our reality."
Domestic league seasons can continue into the summer after Uefa postponed the 2020 European Championships by 12 months.
Meanwhile, prominent Serie A club AC Milan have received a financial boost with the signing of a new sponsorship deal with ROinvesting, a European contracts for difference (CFD) trading provider.
Under the deal, the Cyprus-based firm becomes Milan’s official and exclusive CFD partner.
The length of the agreement has not been disclosed, but the new sponsor said that the club’s “worldwide recognition and brand awareness will be an incredible feat and marketing tool for ROinvesting and the investing opportunities they provide today.”