The president of Italian Serie A football club Napoli has been criticised by the Mayor of Naples with regard to plans for a new 20,000-capacity stadium.

The club’s current home, Stadio San Paolo, was built in 1959 and is still owned by the city council. However, it is in dire need of refurbishment.

The city’s Mayor, Luigi De Magistris, wants to refurbish the existing structure, even if it means necessary repair works are carried out gradually and exclusively at the expense of city coffers over a four-year period.

However, as previously reported by TheStadiumBusiness, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis is backing plans for a new, 20,000-seat stadium to host the Serie A side.

He first stated his desire to build a new stadium back in September, when he said it was a “pain” to go the club’s current ground.

The San Paolo has a capacity of about 60,000, but the club struggles to fill the venue and last season averaged an attendance of around 39,000 in the league.

De Magistris claims that the upcoming Champions League match against Spanish giant Real Madrid would not be possible without upgrades to Napoli’s San Paolo stadium.

“Were it not for our intervention, the game against Real Madrid probably wouldn’t be played because the San Paolo wouldn’t meet criteria,” De Magistris said.

“Between now and 2021, whether the club invests in the stadium or not, we will put aside the necessary funds to completely restructure the stadium.

“A 20,000-seat San Paolo would not be practical. The stadium is for the people, and I’m firmly opposed to those who want to put up economic barriers to stop people from accessing it.”

The San Paolo, where footballing legend Diego Maradona helped Napoli to its sole league titles in 1987 and 1990, is one of the most emblematic football venues in Italy.