AS Roma had double cause for celebration on Wednesday after qualifying for the last sixteen of the Champions League the night before and getting the green light to build their new stadium. In a statement late on Tuesday Roma said the four local authorities involved in the decision had approved the plans to build the Stadio della Roma.
“I’m delighted because I know what this decision could mean for Rome itself, for our club’s future and for our fans – and we want to give them the home they deserve,” said Roma president James Pallotta. The 55,000-capacity stadium will be built in the Tor di Valle area in the south of the city and Roma hope to move in for the 2020/21 season.
Roma first unveiled the project for the stadium in March 2014, although the search for a suitable site had begun two years earlier. Like most Italian clubs, AS Roma are currently tenants in their stadium, sharing the Stadio Olimpico with neighbours Lazio. The public ownership of stadiums in Italy means that clubs are unable to modernise their facilities and make money from mega-stores, restaurants and music events, unlike their English and German counterparts.
Juventus, Atlanta, Sassuolo and Udinese are the only Serie A clubs who are stadium owners. On the field, Roma’s 1-0 win over Qarabag on Tuesday meant they won their group in the Champions League – a competition in which they have suffered a string of recent humiliations. Results in the last few years have included a 7-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich, 6-1 thumping at Barcelona and a 3-0 home defeat by Porto last season which cost them a place in the lucrative group stage.
“It’s a magnificent result for us, for our confidence, for the rest of our season and for Roma’s reputation on the international stage,” said midfielder Daniele De Rossi. “We’ve been on the wrong end of a couple of drubbings in Europe so this goes some way to restoring our reputation. It’s fantastic to finish top of such a difficult group.”
Chelsea and Atletico Madrid had been expected to qualify but instead it was Roma who joined the English Premier League side in the last sixteen. “No one had us down as favourites at the start; in fact, we were pretty much written off. We just got on with the job and believed in ourselves,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
“The lads played with real conviction right from our opening game at home against Atletico (a 0-0 draw). We didn’t play particularly well that day but we showed we could dig in. That was the start of a great group stage for us.”