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Sep 29, 2009

Roma stadium to be inspired by English model

AS Roma will use the English model for soccer stadiums when drawing up detailed plans for their new 55,000-seater home, in a bid to bring fans closer to the pitch.

Roma share the Stadio Olimpico, which hosted the 2009 Champions League final, with city rivals Lazio but want to build their own 55,000-seater stadium in the western outskirts of the city to increase much-needed revenue.

The Olimpico has a running track surrounding the pitch and coach Claudio Ranieri, a former Chelsea boss, is looking forward to the new stadium's dugouts being next to the fans as they are in England.

"It means being together, being an integral part of the experience with the fans who are close," Ranieri said. "In England it's like that everywhere. Away from home you feel like an opponent but never an enemy."

Italian soccer continues to struggle with the problem of hooliganism and fans are rarely close to players and officials in current stadiums. But a government crackdown has cut the number of violent incidents and Fiorentina, also mulling a new stadium, have been, praised for removing barriers in the away section.

Roma, sixth last season, issued a mixed set of financial results on Monday and a new stadium is seen as a way of swelling the coffers once construction is factored in. Reports say Sensi could name i Giallorossi's new stadium after her late father and previous president Franco Sensi.

Most Italian clubs rent stadiums from councils, meaning they have lost out on revenue and suffer in European competition compared to English and Spanish sides who own their grounds.

Juventus are the first Serie A club to build their own stadium, with completion due in 2011, while Inter Milan are keen to move away from the San Siro which AC Milan could then buy.

Club captain and record goalscorer Francesco Totti, 33, just hopes the ground can be completed in time for him to play inside it.

"It's hard, I hope they can build it quickly. I hope to manage it given that I'm signing a new five-year deal," he said.

Environmental opponents have criticised the plans saying the Olimpico is already a world-class stadium and another ground is not needed, especially if Lazio decide to build a new home too.

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