Cagliari Calcio has sent an official request to the council of Trieste to play its last four home matches at Stadio Nereo Rocco in the city of Trieste. The matches would include the home fixtures against Internazionale and Juventus.
The move is a next step in the dispute between Cagliari president Massimo Cellino and the city of Cagliari relating to the new stadium Cagliari wants to build near the airport.
The club has the plans and financing ready for a move to the new site, however protests from airport regulator ENAC, which feels the stadium is too close to the airport, have halted progress and are threatening the entire project.
In the meantime, Cagliari is forced to play on at its delapidated Stadio San’Elia, which hardly meets safety requirements. The stadium, built in 1970, was originally bowl-shaped, but three make-shift stands have been built on the athletics tracks, which has resulted in an odd sight.
Parts of the stadium have been closed since the match against Fiorentina in late January, resulting in a reduced capacity of just 14,250 seats.
In a move that is likely aimed at provoking the Cagliari city council, Cellino has now decided that enough is enough and requested to play the last of Cagliari’s home matches in Trieste, a city in the north-east of the country and almost 1,000 kilometres away from the island of Sardegna.
The move may however also be necessary to protect the club from possible penalties from the Serie A, as the reduced capacity is below the regulatory minimum of 20,000 for Serie A games.
The secretary of sport of Trieste has already reacted positively to the request, though problems may arise for the last fixture against Juventus when Triestina, permanent occupant of the stadium and currently playing in the Lega Pro, has a home match on the same day.
Stadio Nereo Rocco opened in 1992 and can hold just under 30,000 spectators. President Cellino is said to have become impressed by the stadium when Cagliari played a Coppa Italia match at the ground two years ago.
[UPDATE] After initial reports indicated that Cagliari mayor Zedda and president Cellino had come to an agreement to keep playing in Cagliari, Cellino has in the end pushed through his threat, which means that Cagliari will play the upcoming home match against Internazionale at Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste.
Photo Stadio Nereo Rocco: © Wikipedia user Eoloisback.
Photo Stadio Sant’Elia: © Flickr user Cristiano Cani.