Italian professional football has a new and serious problem. Every year less people buy a season ticket to see their home team play and less people are turning up in general to see the matches live, preferring to stay at home and watch them on television, safe, warm and with the best possible view.

In the first six days of this years championship, there were on average 5,000 less spectators at every game, 21,154 people per match compared to 26,324 per match in the same period in 2004. In the early 1990s on average, more than 30,000 people turned out to see their teams play.

The arrival of pay television, with Sky, Mediaset and La7 all offering local matches at reasonable prices, is taking its toll, particularly when a ticket for a first-class serie A match can cost 50 or more. The fall in spectators has come just when football clubs are having to install expensive security systems at their stadiums to meet the requirements of new anti-hooligan laws which came into force at the beginning of this year's championship. The president of the Italian football league has suggested that season ticket prices be reduced; the cheapest season ticket to see Juventus play this year is 220.