De Laurentiis slams city amid Napoli stadium frustration

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has said he is in talks to acquire another football team after again stating his frustration at ongoing efforts to improve the Italian Serie A club’s Stadio San Paolo.

Napoli’s outspoken leader has frequently clashed with local authorities over the 60,240-capacity San Paolo, which first opened in December 1959 but has received little improvement work since Italy hosted the 1990 FIFA World Cup.

The stadium is owned by the City of Naples and De Laurentiis is keen to renovate it. He has recently threatened to move Napoli’s UEFA Champions League games to the 58,000-seat Stadio San Nicola, home of Serie D team Bari, which he acquired earlier this year.

Speaking amid the current stadium situation, De Laurentiis said he is considering buying an overseas club. “I will buy a team, the project is in progress,” he said, according to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.

In August, De Laurentiis described the San Paolo as a “toilet” and claims the current stadium restrictions mean he cannot take Napoli any further. Earlier this season, delays in installing new seats at the stadium led to the club suspending the sale of season tickets.

“The management of the stadium is a huge problem,” De Laurentiis said. “The city has done nothing more than keep it afloat. When I discover that PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) pay €1m (£891,000/$1.14m) a year to rent the Parc des Princes, I realise how far behind we are.

“With 47,000 seats, they produce revenue of €100m a year. Napoli can’t get beyond €17-18m because we can’t do anything inside the San Paolo — we can’t do any other activities. The city has done nothing for the San Paolo since 1990.

“Nobody has taken responsibility and we’ve found ourselves with a stadium which is not only ugly but is falling apart. It even rains inside. There are millions of screws that are never checked so why is the city council demanding €1.8m a year in rent?”

De Laurentiis claims he could easily develop a new stadium at another location, but the history of the San Paolo demands that Napoli stays at its current home. He added: “They ask me: why don’t you go elsewhere?

“It would take me two seconds to buy the land and 18 months to build a new stadium, but this is the theatre of (Diego) Maradona. The only important part of the history of Napoli, of a past that we do not want to forget.”

Image: Mister No