Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis recently presented his transformative vision for Italian football, advocating for significant changes in the number of Serie A teams. He addressed the future of the sport amidst disagreements among the Lega Serie A, FIGC, and the Minister for Sport.

De Laurentiis strongly supports a reduction in Serie A from 20 teams to 18 or even fewer. He argues that only six to eight clubs financially sustain the league, while the rest are struggling. This discrepancy creates an unsustainable fixture list, with matches increasing to an untenable 75-80 per season. The Napoli president believes that this overburdens players and fails to generate commensurate revenue.

“I am sorry to point out that politicians in general believe the Government should not be interested in the economic elements of football. Or rather, they believe the Government cannot create the conditions to eliminate the billions of debts that football accumulates every year.

“The Lega Serie A will never have the strength to reduce the clubs, so the Government has to intervene,” he further asserted in front of the Italian Senate.

Serie A reduction in number of teams benefits finances, per Napoli President

The 74-year-old also emphasized the need for legislative changes to revive the economic and financial health of Italian football. He cited Napoli‘s positive balance of $90 million as an example of the struggle even successful clubs face; unable to invest adequately in infrastructure or youth academies due to financial constraints.

“We are not asking for money, only legislative modifications that allow our sector to recover economic and financial energy. During total chaos we allowed Serie A to go from 16 teams in 1986 to 18 and then 20. But the matches will increase to 75-80 for next season. Players will be worn down and simply cannot maintain that tempo from one season to the next.

“The revenue is also not commensurate with the quantity of energy wasted, where only the football institutions will bring home an economic result, leaning on our shoulders and our investments.”

“Six, at most eight clubs, carry the league and the Government needs to realize that. The rest is just filler. We want the Government to stabilize a vote in favor of those six-eight clubs who are decisive for the constitution of a league because otherwise, it would not stand up.

“We cannot have these six-eight clubs continue to accumulate debt. Napoli closed with a positive of $90m, but with what struggle? We could not invest in the stadium, in the youth academy.

“With these six-eight clubs, we could create a league economic structure that would also benefit the smaller clubs, but they need to trust us rather than create obstacles for a crumb here and there.”

Juventus’ perspective on issue

Even Juventus director Francesco Calvo echoed the need for a reduction in the number of professional teams in Serie A. Speaking to Calcio e Finanza, he outlined the reasons why the top flight would be better off with fewer clubs.

“For us, it’s essential that there’s a change in the format of the league with a reduction in professional teams. It could, combined with a reform of the players’ contracts by introducing more flexibility, review the very concept of mutuality which supports all the lower divisions.

He also underscored Juventus’ significant investment in lower divisions, totaling almost $541 million in six years. Calvo then suggested that a leaner league structure would benefit all levels of Italian soccer.

“In the last six years, Juventus have invested almost $541 m in Serie B and Lega Pro, through the purchase of players and development bonuses. The Italian football crisis starts from afar. In 2003, Juve had a turnover like all the most important clubs in Europe. Around $250-270m.

“20 years later, we have managed to double this figure, but our international rivals have quadrupled it. The main problem is that the Italian rules think it’s just a game and not an industry.”