World Cup winners maybe, but Italian football no longer draws the crowds it once did. So far this season there have been less than 20,000 spectators on average per game for the top league Seria A matches, compared with more than 21,000 last season. This is far from German levels of 35,000 per game or English ones of 34,000. Even Spain is doing better with almost 30,000 spectators per match.

Fans now prefer to stay at home to watch games on internet or via satellite. Stadium violence may also have taken a toll, as have the game-rigging scandals that came to light last summer. In addition it is thought that the large number of foreign players per side has taken the edge off the personal involvement fans once felt for their local team.

Falling figures are bad news for the Seria A teams, which are already in serious financial trouble. They also come at a time when money is needed for the remodernisation and repair of several of the big city stadiums.