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Poor old Benevento. With a perfect record of 13 defeats in 13 matches, one of Serie A’s newly-promoted sides are already staring an immediate return to the second tier of Italian football right in the face. In actual fact, they finished fifth last season but were promoted via a play-off in which they defeated Carpi 1-0 on aggregate.
Looking back, perhaps the writing was on the wall for Le Streghe before their debut top flight campaign even got underway when they suffered a 4-0 demolition at the hands of Perugia in their home stadium, the Stadio Ciro Vigorito.
Their initial start to life in Serie A was poor but hardly disastrous, losing by a single goal in each of their opening three matches against Sampdoria, Bologna and Torino.
Alarm bells started ringing when they lost 6-0 in Naples against Maurizio Sarri’s attacking juggernaut of José Callejón, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne. That can happen to anyone at the San Paolo when Napoli hit top form, but in truth the scoreline was 6 going on 66. As impressive as the Partenopei were, Benevento were really passive and didn’t help themselves one bit.
Ironically, the straw that broke the camel’s back came at the hands of a side whose president – Aurelio De Laurentiis – has been particularly vocal about the need to reduce Italy’s top division to 16 teams. Given the sheer lack of quality at the lower end of Serie A, it is hard to disagree with the film producer’s sentiments.
Because of the Azzurri’s failure to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia, we have now reached breaking point where a complete revamp of the game is needed. With Carlo Tavecchio gone, the next FIGC president must prioritise the reduction of Serie A in order to increase the competitiveness of the games which will raise the overall quality of football on show. Thankfully, many high-profile figures in Italian football are calling for meaningful reforms to be implemented.
While some would argue stripping the romance out of the game is detrimental, it makes no sense for Italian football as a whole to continue with such a significant gap between the sides fighting at opposite ends of the table. A streamlined set-up with a more equal redistribution of television money would be a better solution for everyone.
So, while Benevento’s rise from Serie C2 to Serie A is a truly great story for the neutral, they are the single biggest reason why the league must be reformed if Italian football is to reach the pinnacle of the game again anytime soon.
It may sound like a cruel thing to say about them and other smaller clubs, but unfortunately this is the harsh reality facing those who will be tasked with taking the game forward.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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