Serie A attendances down 6.4 percent
Serie A clubs are earning more from television and transfers, although fewer fans are passing through the gates, according to the Italian FA's (FIGC) annual report into Italian football.
While there was a growth of 4.6 percent in revenue earned by Serie A clubs from television, representing on average 38 percent of Italian clubs' total income, visits to the stadium appear to be further losing appeal.
A 6.4 percent drop on spectator numbers from 2011-12 to 2012-13, equivalent to almost one million fewer fans attending Italian league matches year on year, is a worrying trend. As a result, the total income clubs earned from matchdays, including hospitality and merchandising, dropped by 4.1 percent.
"You've got to know how to interpret some of the statistics," said the head of the Italian Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago. "The drop in spectators is certainly linked to the state of the stadiums, but it is also placed in the context of an economic crisis, as well as an at times incomprehensible commercial approach adopted by clubs and certainly a league which is not particularly outstanding in terms of its competitive appeal."
In spite of the drop in crowd figures, the increase in television revenue means clubs are actually now better off than they were a year ago. That fact is not particularly comforting, however.
"It's amazing how in a country which is suffering financially, there happens to be a growth in productivity," said Emanuele Grasso of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who conducted the study -- ReportCalcio -- on the FIGC's behalf.
"But the negative side of that could be represented by the fact that it is largely down to television revenue and transfer profits.”
Without either, Italian clubs would be unable to survive based on gate receipts alone, with average crowds of just 22,591 in Serie A last season.