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Soccer-Homesick Cagliari longing for stadium of their own
September 29, 2013 / 6:05 PM / 4 years ago

Soccer-Homesick Cagliari longing for stadium of their own

Sept 29 (Reuters) - Cagliari’s celebrations were muted despite grabbing a late draw against Inter Milan on Sunday, with the team still looking for a new stadium after leaving their run-down ground in a row with the local council.

The Sardinian side again staged the match in Trieste, on the border with Slovenia and around 1,000 kilometres from their own city, as part of a saga which has dragged on for nearly two years.

“It’s very difficult to play away from home all the time. It’s not easy because you never get used to it,” coach Diego Lopez told the Stadio Sprint programme on RAI television.

“We hope this has been the last one and that our fans can see their team play at home,” added the Uruguayan following a match played in front of a handful of supporters, most of them rooting for Inter.

“Our first aim is to make sure we stay up. We were 11th last season and you always try to improve,” he added.

Defender Davide Astori agreed it was difficult after his team drew for the fourth time in six games, leaving them stuck in midtable.

“We don’t have a home or stadium, which is tough but we are trying to do the best we can,” he said when he was asked how far Cagliari could go this season.

Cagliari’s nightmare appeared to be near an end earlier this month when the Sardinian city’s local council approved a project to redevelop the Stadio Sant‘Elia, which had been the club’s home since 1970.

It had been planned to have the stadium ready by Sept 21 but on Wednesday, Cagliari were told the arena was still not fit to stage a game.

Cagliari left the dilapidated Sant‘Elia during the 2011/12 season after a disagreement with local authorities.

Last season, they moved to the small Is Arenas stadium, which had previously hosted third tier matches in the 1980s, but it has only one permanent stand.

Their first match was played behind losed doors against Atalanta and the next match against AS Roma was cancelled by the Cagliari city government after the club defied its orders to play without supporters attending.

On that occasion, club president Massimo Cellino told supporters the ground was safe, invited them to turn up for the match and slammed the city government. Roma were awarded a 3-0 win.

They eventually played a few games there, when the stadium was partially opened, before ending the season once again in distant Trieste.

At one point, Cellino was arrested and charged with false representation in a case connected with the stadium and in May, he was banned for four months by the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) for allowing the sale of tickets for the Roma match.

Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Tony Goodson

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