September 11, 2018 / 4:53 PM / 8 days ago

Napoli president wants to play Champions League matches in Bari

MILAN (Reuters) - Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has said he will ask UEFA to allow his club to play their Champions League matches across the country in Bari this season.

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis poses during a photocall of his movie "Toto 3D" at the Rome, Italy, Film Festival in this October 29, 2011 file photo. Italian police seized assets on January 26, 2016 from soccer players, their agents and club executives as part of an investigation into alleged tax evasion in the country's top two divisions. Judicial sources said those named in the investigation included former Argentina international and Modena coach Hernan Crespo, Napoli chairman De Laurentiis, Lazio club president Claudio Lotito, and AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito/Files Picture Supplied by Action Images

De Laurentiis, repeating his previous criticism of the municipally-owned San Paolo stadium where Napoli play their home games, said he would pay for 1,000 buses to take fans the 250 kilometres to Bari for each match.

“The stadium of Napoli is a nightmare,” he told Corriere dello Sport in an interview. “Such a bad stadium limits Napoli at an international level.

“It will take two years but I am going to build a new stadium so nobody can say anything to me.”

His comments brought an angry reaction from Naples mayor Luigi Di Magistris who has been involved in a spat with De Laurentiis over the Napoli president’s criticism of the stadium.

“His suggestion is unthinkable and impractical,” he told Italian media. “It’s a serious matter to even think about something like that. Napoli play and will play at the San Paolo stadium.”

De Laurentiis took over troubled former Serie A club Bari after they were relegated to the Italian league’s fourth tier over financial difficulties in August.

Napoli face Liverpool, Paris St Germain and Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League group. UEFA said it had not received any request to switch the venue of the games.

Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond

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