Napoli threaten to move to England
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has threatened to uproot the club and move to England if his plans to purchase and redevelop the Stadio San Paolo are not approved.
The San Paolo is currently owned by the Napoli city council and rented to the Serie A club. The last major renovation work was carried out ahead of the 1990 World Cup, since when there has been a severe lack of investment, and the arena is showing increasing signs of age.
De Laurentiis wants to buy the property and redevelop it from top to bottom, but his plans have yet to receive approval from the council. If they do not approve, he has threatened to take all of the club's assets away and start afresh -- in England.
"I'm sick of it," he said at a news conference. "I'm a simple person who talks and tries to understand, but if on the other side, there are people who don't listen, then I will take that on board and leave. If I do leave Napoli, then you can play in the third division and keep your mayor. Maybe he can even play for you, together with his councillors.
"I'm going to meet with the mayor to decide whether I should leave Naples and start over in England with [coach Rafael] Benitez and the players. Maybe I should just move to England and leave you with the youth team. I'm not going to leave the Napoli side I've built bit-by-bit in the hands of somebody else."
Although that meeting, which was due to take place on Monday afternoon, was postponed, Napoli's mayor Luigi De Magistris said an agreement is just awaiting two signatures -- his and that of the Napoli president.
"We need to stop talking about the future of the Stadio San Paolo and just sign the paperwork," he said. "I have the pen ready and we've made it clear to president De Laurentiis for a long time now that we are in agreement, and I'm now getting tired of all the talking. I'm ready to formalise the transaction and to move things forwards in the way we have discussed many times."
Meanwhile, De Laurentiis has offered his players an additional bonus if they finish ahead of Roma in second place this season. Six points currently separate the two sides with a berth in the group stage of next season's Champions League, rather than in the playoff, at stake.
That bonus will also be paid to goalkeeper Pepe Reina, if he commits his future to the club once his season-long loan from Liverpool expires at the end of June. "It's on the condition that he stays here next season," De Laurentiis said. "Reina was delighted because it's a win-win situation for him."