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Oct 6, 2005

AC Milan chief considering move to new stadium

MILAN, Oct 6 (Reuters) - AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says his club could leave their famous San Siro home and build a new a venue in the city.

'Our stadium is among the least worst in Italy, the pitch is magnificent, you have a good view from the stands, the majority of fans don't get wet if it rains and it is easy to get to.

'But the first level was built in 1926 and sharing with Inter Milan isn't easy. Inter's directors have different ideas to us and so maybe it is time to think of two new stadiums for the city of Milan,' Galliani said in an interview with the daily Corriere della Sera.

Milan, formed in 1899, played at five different stadiums before moving to the San Siro in 1926 and were not joined by Inter until 1947.

Before moving in with their 'cousins' at the San Siro, Inter played at the Arena, in the centre of the city, which is the oldest venue in the world to have staged first class football having been opened in 1807 a century before Inter were formed.

The three-tier San Siro, which currently has space for 80,000 fans, was radically redeveloped for the 1990 World Cup finals and was the venue for the opening game of that tournament.

Although the World Cup allowed huge investment in stadiums across Italy, Galliani, who is also president of the Italian Football League, said it was not spent wisely.

'The error of 'Italia 90' was developing existing stadiums or building new ones with athletic tracks. That was how we lost a historic opportunity,' he said.

The Delle Alpi stadium in Turin was one of the new venues built for the World Cup but will be demolished next year to make way for a new venue for Juventus which will have a reduced capacity and no running track.

Italian clubs could have a second chance to get access to funds for stadium development with the country bidding to host the European Championships in 2012.

CROWDS DOWN

Attendances in Italy this season are down by 20 percent and while some, such as Football Federation chief Franco Carraro, have blamed ticket prices and crowd violence, Galliani says the stadiums are also to blame.

'All the club presidents agree with my view that the fall is without doubt related to stadiums that are obsolete and not designed for football,' he said.

'You can't see much of the game, you have a bad view and if it rains you get soaked, as happened to 5,000 Livorno fans at Florence on Sunday who will have caught colds after watching the match in the pouring rain. We can't go on like this,' he said.

'The way forward is to build new stadiums because the majority of the current ones are neither savable or able to be restructured,' added Galliani who highlighted German club Schalke 04's AufSchalke Arena in Gelsenkirchen as a model.

'The Germans told me that they sell an average of 30,000 litres of beer for each game. In our stadiums you can't even get a cup of water,' he said.

'It's obvious that as long as the stadiums are like this people will prefer to watch the game on television rather than go to the match,' he added.