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Rome clubs threaten to quit Olympic stadium

© Reuters 2002

ROME, Nov 4 (Reuters) - The presidents of Serie A clubs AS Roma and Lazio say they have made a bid to buy the Olympic stadium but will quit the venue and build a new stadium if their offer is not accepted.

The 80,000 capacity Olympic stadium, shared by the two Rome clubs, is currently owned by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and also houses the offices of several sports federations.

"Together with Lazio we have offered 200 million euros (for the stadium) but as yet we have not received a response," Roma president Franco Sensi told RAI radio.

"We will wait a little more, then we will build another stadium, near to Rome and it will be ready inside two years," added Sensi. Lazio owner Sergio Cragnotti has long argued that his club needs its own stadium to develop new revenue streams.

"The stadium project is vital because it would give us an economic boost," said Cragnotti.

"I am not bluffing when I say that next season, unless we have a concrete response about the (Olympic) stadium we will play our games touring all around Italy," said Cragnotti who added that a number of mayors had offered their co-operation in the building of a new venue. CONI were not immediately available for comment.

Few clubs in Italy own their own stadium with most venues in the hands of local councils.

But the two Milan clubs, Inter and AC Milan, have taken out a long-term lease on the San Siro stadium they jointly use, in a deal which allows them to develop new on-site services such as a sponsors' lounge.

Juventus are in talks with the Turin city council in a bid to purchase and radically redevelop the Delle Alpi stadium they share with Torino.

The Olympic stadium was built with the aim of hosting the 1944 Olympic Games which did not take place due to World War Two but it did eventually host the 1960 Olympics and was radically redeveloped to be the venue for the 1990 World Cup final.

Roma and Lazio have been playing home games at the stadium since 1953. (C) Reuters Limited 2002.

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