DUBAI AS Roma is on track to break ground on its new 56,000-seat stadium to be built in Rome's south-west, its chief executive said in Dubai on Tuesday.
The 1.3 billion euro ($1.36 billion) Stadio Della Roma has faced years of delays as the club waited for approval.
Originally set to open in the current season, chief executive Umberto Gandini said the club is in the "final step" of the approval process and the stadium would be ready by 2020-21 season, if not earlier.
"It's a question of a couple of months," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a sports conference.
Roma's plans follow current Serie A leader Juventus, who became the first top Italian club to own its own ground having built a 41,000-seat stadium in 2011 instead of relying on the Stadio delle Alpi which it had to share with Torino.
Such purpose-built modern facilities could help Italy in any future bid to host either a World Cup or European Championship.
Roma will have to present their plans for confirmation to a new city municipality following December's resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, which set off a string of changes in Italian politics.
"The expectation is that with minimal modification to the original project we hope that we can get their approval," Gandini said.
The new stadium would help Roma, currently second in Serie A, raise revenue. The club currently alternates with cross-city rival SS Lazio in borrowing the publicly-owned Stadio Olimpico venue for its games.
Public ownership of stadiums is common in Italy but leaves clubs unable to modernise their facilities and make money from mega-stores and restaurants, as do the likes of Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Having their own stadium could also give Roma more control over those attending their games.
Roma supporters who occupy the Curva Sud (south curve) at the Stadio Olimpico are boycotting games in protest against new security measures they say are destroying their fan culture.
Gandini said the protests were "heavily" affecting the atmosphere and that the club was trying to resolve the matter with the authorities.
"The ambience is different therefore also normal fans are deciding not to come to the stadium and this is a problem."
On a proposal by Italian Football Federation President Carlo Tavecchio to reduce the number of teams competing in Serie A from 20 to 18, Gandini said the results of the current competition show that is the right step to take.
Last placed Pescara has won just one game this season whilst 19th placed Crotone and 18th placed Palermo have won two games.
($1 = 0.9573 euros)
(Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)