Juventus appeals for early Serie A kick-offs to help boost revenue

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Juventus, Italian champions, called Series A to plan earlier kick-offs to assist the club develop in Asia.

The Italian club were below Premier League top six clubs in revenue last season and are depending on China as a major area for growth.

The Series A season starts on Saturday, and each match starts in Beijing at midnight or later in the first two weeks.

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“We have to find the right balance between domestic and global audiences,” Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci told BBC Sport.

“It is not just about the broadcasting times, it is also about the rights distribution and who is showing the games.

“In that sense, the difference between the Premier League and Serie A is huge.

“This is a very old story and one of the more frequent reasons for fights with the league.”

Italy’s top clubs have long debated with the league about the need for more games to be played at earlier times to maximise their chances of exposure in China and South East Asia.

The bigger clubs do not believe the Italian system, which revolves around evening matches, helps them ‘sell their brands’ globally.

And while there is an acceptance that viewing habits are changing, Juventus are frustrated at the present situation, which they feel tilts the commercial market hugely in favour of Premier League clubs.

All of the Italian top-flight matches on the opening two weekends of the campaign kick off at either 17:00 BST or 19:45.

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Speaking in March, Serie A president Gaetano Micciche said the possibility of playing a Serie A match in China within the next three years had been discussed, but it was unlikely to happen in that timescale.

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Deloitte’s Football Money League, published in January, placed Juventus 11th in the table of the world’s 20 richest clubs.

Ricci said that an aggressive commercial strategy, including becoming the first Italian club to open a branch, in addition to offices in Asia in Hong Kong, is aimed at increasing revenues as they pursue winning the Champions League for the first time since 1996.

Juventus have proceeded with their plans despite the recent civil unrest in Hong Kong.

Juve have also bought high-profile players, signing Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo for £99.2m from Real Madrid in 2018 and £67.5m Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax this summer.

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Although they have won the Italian title on 35 occasions – including for the past eight seasons – they have lost five Champions League finals in the past 23 years.

Several Premier League clubs have offices in Hong Kong, including Manchester United and Manchester City, and Federico Palomba, head of Juventus’ Asia-Pacific operation, says it is a region “with huge scope for growth”.

Since Ronaldo joined last year, Juventus have carried out studies that showed their global fanbase has risen by 16% and their ‘digital community’, their combined followers on various social media platforms including Weibo, has risen by 59% to 81 million.

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“In the 1990s, Serie A was very popular in China. Now it is coming back again,” added Palomba.

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