Football right now is at the peak of its glory. However, the fame, the money, and the technology have become so normal that football’s roots have seemed to disappear, or at least be forgotten, writes Sean Walker.
For example, Liverpool’s infamous Kop end is nowadays not much more intimidating than the more subdued sides of the ground. From a personal view, and from what I have seen going to games up and down the country, the clubs in England have lost a connection with their supporters.
But this has not happened across Italy. This is just one reason to why Serie B is the best league that you aren’t watching.
First of all — the fans.
The fans have an unconditional love for their club and the club treat the fans with great respect, not like customers. Ticket prices are cheap allowing the working class to afford to attend the games at their beloved club. They are not scammed but rewarded for investing their hard worked money into their club.
The football is a culture for the people. A proper culture, not just West Ham fans scattered across London with Fred Perry jackets. A culture where the football club can define and affect the town in which it resides.
Financially, football can really boost cities across the country. The fans, make that happen. Not a TV deal. Furthermore, the stadiums are built to encourage chanting, celebration and even pyro. Imagine seeing that in a 37-thousand capacity Stadio Renzo Barbera, home of top of the league team Palermo.
The league includes some big teams too, which brings in high numbers of fans all creating a hostile atmosphere. These include seven-time Italian Football Championship winners Pro Vercelli, Palermo — once the home of world class striker Paulo Dybala (and Kyle Lafferty… no?), and Parma who are one of just thirteen Italian clubs to have won multiple major titles.
But the main thing that you are missing out on is the competitiveness. Ten points separates 1st and 10th, eight points separate 12th and 22nd (last place). In addition, just 19 points separate the top from the bottom, and this differs to the top flights in other countries. The title race is all but over in the top flight of; Germany, Spain, England ad France.
If you thought Serie A is competitive, well, Serie B is by far one of the most competitive divisions in the world right now. To put it in perspective, the stereotypical ‘most competitive league in the world‘ has an 14-point gap between first placed Manchester City and second placed Chelsea at the time of writing.
On the other hand, the dark side of Serie B is that once promoted, a near miracle is needed to stay up. The power Serie A has over Serie B is huge, which differs from the Championship to the Premier League, or the Segunda to La Liga, for example.
Italian club Benevento are currently experiencing the struggle this season, a club who were promoted via the playoffs and have only recorded four points in nineteen games. The chairman Oreste Vigorito blamed witchcraft for their bad run, but truth be told with a lack of funding, the power of Serie A has been too much for them this time around.