September 11, 2018 / 5:04 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer: Napoli president wants to play Champions League matches in Bari

Napoli club chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis gestures during a news conference in Naples August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Ciro De Luca/Files

MILAN (Reuters) - Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has said he will ask UEFA to allow his club to play their Champions League matches across the country in Bari this season.

De Laurentiis, repeating his previous criticism of the municipally-owned San Paolo stadium where Napoli play their home games, said he would pay for 1,000 buses to take fans the 250 kilometres to Bari for each match.

“The stadium of Napoli is a nightmare,” he told Corriere dello Sport in an interview. “Such a bad stadium limits Napoli at an international level.

“It will take two years but I am going to build a new stadium so nobody can say anything to me.”

His comments brought an angry reaction from Naples mayor Luigi Di Magistris who has been involved in a spat with De Laurentiis over the Napoli president’s criticism of the stadium.

“His suggestion is unthinkable and impractical,” he told Italian media. “It’s a serious matter to even think about something like that. Napoli play and will play at the San Paolo stadium.”

De Laurentiis took over troubled former Serie A club Bari after they were relegated to the Italian league’s fourth tier over financial difficulties in August.

Napoli face Liverpool, Paris St Germain and Red Star Belgrade in their Champions League group. UEFA said it had not received any request to switch the venue of the games.

Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond

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