Serie A stadiums just 55.8% full - study

Crowd numbers in Italy are dwindling to a new low, according to a study published in La Gazzetta dello Sport.

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While it can prove difficult to find tickets for big games in the Premier League or the Bundesliga, many Serie A clubs are struggling even to fill half their grounds in a further sign of the game's decline in Italy.

Hooliganism and aged stadiums are the main reasons for the decline, while with every game available on pay-TV, more and more fans are preferring to stay at home to watch their favourite team in action.

The figures, collated by The Guardian, show how over the first few weekends of the season, just 55.8 percent of seats were filled in Italian grounds.

AC Milan's opening match of the season against Lazio drew just 37,000 at the San Siro, which holds 80,000. That is compared to the full house of over 80,000 packed into the Westfalenstadion to see Borussia Dortmund's opener against Bayer Leverkusen and the 75,339 who witnessed Manchester United's home defeat to Swansea.

Grounds in England's top flight were 98.4 percent full, followed by the Bundesliga with 93.6 percent, the Netherlands' Eredivisie with 90 percent, the Primera Division in Spain with 75.4 percent and 69.3 percent in France's Ligue 1.

Less than 8,000 attended Udinese's clash with Empoli, although construction work at the Stadio Friuli meant not many more could fit in. That Udinese are in the middle of renovating their ground is, however, a rarity in the Italian game.

Apart from Juventus, who moved to their own Juventus Stadium home three years ago -- and have won the Serie A title in each of their three seasons there -- most clubs occupy grounds owned by city councils who refuse to invest beyond the necessary maintenance work. Some do not even cover those costs, resulting in decaying structures.

Roma have unveiled plans for a new-build stadium just outside the city while Sampdoria's new president Massimo Ferrero is looking to revive plans first drawn up by his predecessors to construct a new home for the Blucerchiati.

Milan giants AC and Inter have both run feasibility studies into either building a new ground or taking ownership of and redeveloping the San Siro. Given the amount of bureaucracy needed to get beyond plans on paper, though, most clubs are just standing still, accepting the situation as it is.

Roma are the exception. "I want the new stadium by 2016," their president James Pallotta said. "I would even carry [Francesco] Totti on my shoulders to the new stadium to make him play there."