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Serie A attendances fall again despite World Cup success

Written by: Staff
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MILAN, Oct 25 (Reuters) Fans are turning their backs on Italy's Serie A, despite the country's World Cup success, with average attendances this season slumping to 19,511, the ninth successive season that crowds have fallen.

A study by Gazzetta dello Sport showed that average attendances have fallen by 11,650 from the 1997-98 season when the figure was 31,161.

This season's drop, which comes after Italy beat France to win the World Cup in July, can be partially explained by the demotion of the country's most successful club Juventus to the second division Serie B.

Juve were stripped of their last two league titles and relegated to Serie B by a sports tribunal looking into allegations of match-fixing.

The Turin club's first ever season in the second tier has resulted in a large rise in attendances in Serie B -- crowds are up 20.3 per cent on last season's figures.

While Juve's relegation can explain some of this season's drop in attendances in Serie A, Gazzetta said the negative trend over the past decade was due to other factors including crowd violence, expensive ticket prices, the impact of the match-fixing scandal, saturated television coverage and poor quality stadiums.

The newspaper said that there was no sign of a similar fall in crowds in other major European leagues with attendances actually increasing in Spain and England.

The fall in top flight crowds may also reflect the change in status of a number of clubs -- big city teams Genoa, Napoli, Verona and Bologna are all in Serie B while the top flight has several teams with a much smaller fan base.

Empoli had an average crowds of 6,725 last season, Chievo Verona 8,589 and Siena 9,874.

REUTERS PM RN1511

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