Roma plan new English-style stadium

ROME - AS Roma will use the English model for football stadiums when drawing up detailed plans for their new home, club officials said on Tuesday.

Roma share the Stadio Olimpico with city rivals Lazio but want to build their own 55,000-seater stadium in the western outskirts of the city to increase much-needed revenue and bring fans closer to the pitch.

The Olimpico has a running track and coach Claudio Ranieri, a former Chelsea boss, is looking forward to the new stadium's dugouts being next to the fans as they are in England.

"It means being together, being an integral part of the experience with the fans who are close," Ranieri told a news conference.

"In England it's like that everywhere. Away from home you feel like an opponent but never an enemy."

Italian football suffers from a hooliganism problem and fans are rarely close to players and officials in current stadiums.

A government crackdown has cut the number of violent incidents and Fiorentina, also mulling a new stadium, have been praised for removing barriers in the away section.

Supporter unrest continues over Interior Ministry plans to introduce an electronic supporter card to track fan movements.

Roma fans have also protested against president Rosella Sensi after another takeover bid collapsed this year.

The Serie A side, sixth last season, issued a mixed set of financial results on Monday and a new stadium is seen as a way of swelling the coffers once construction is factored in.

Most Italian clubs rent stadiums from councils, meaning they have lost out on revenue and suffer in European competition compared to English and Spanish sides who own their grounds.

Juventus are the first Serie A club to build their own stadium, with completion due in 2011, while Inter Milan are keen to move away from the San Siro which AC Milan could then buy.

Reports say Sensi could name the stadium after her late father and previous president Franco Sensi.

Club captain Francesco Totti, 33, just hopes the ground can be completed in time for him to play inside it.

"It's hard, I hope they can build it quickly. I hope to manage it given that I'm signing a new five-year deal," he said.

Environmental opponents have criticised the plans saying the Olimpico is already a world-class stadium and another ground is not needed, especially if Lazio decide to build a new home too.