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REFILE-Soccer-Italy's Serie A faces 500 mln euro revenue shortfall, league boss says

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MILAN, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Italy’s top flight soccer league has lost more than 500 million euros ($583 million) in revenues due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the head of Italy’s Serie A said on Monday, warning the industry was in dire straits.

To contain COVID-19 contagion, Italy’s government has rejected a proposal to allow more spectators at sporting events, including lifting the current limit of 1,000 spectators at Serie A football matches to fill a quarter of stadium capacity.

“As of now, Serie A is experiencing a shortfall of more than 500 million euros”, Serie A Chief Executive Luigi De Siervo told Italian state broadcaster Rai, blaming a lack of matchday revenue and a drop in sponsorship deals.

“The whole system is on the verge of collapse,” he added, calling on the government to consider gradually increasing the cap on football fans at matches.

Matchday revenues account for around 11% of Serie A clubs’ 2.5 billion euro aggregated yearly revenues, whose bulk is made up by broadcasting right sales.

But this source of income is also shrinking because broadcasters around the world respond to lower advertising revenues by cutting spending on media right deals.

In an effort to cushion the impact of the pandemic on debt-laden clubs, Serie A is considering selling a minority stake in a newly created company handling the League’s broadcasting rights for 10 seasons.

Two rival private equity consortia led by CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital are vying for a 10% stake.

De Siervo said Serie A clubs would meet at the latest by Oct. 10 to review the bids. ($1 = 0.8578 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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