TV boost to bounce Serie A back into black

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MILAN - Italy's Serie A is likely to return to profit this season, helped by a revenue uplift from new broadcast deals, keeping its third spot among Europe's richest football leagues, a report said on Monday.

According to a study by Bologna-based sports consultancy StageUp, top Italian clubs will post an average operating profit of 400,000 euros in the 2010/11 season, as higher TV revenues will offset lower income from sponsors and tickets.

Serie A clubs had an average operating loss of 8.3 million euros in the 2008/09 season, when sponsors and fans reined in spending amid the downturn, StageUp said in the report released exclusively to Reuters outside Italy.

Broadcast-reliant Serie A will pocket a total of more than 1 billion euros from a new collective TV rights sale starting this season, Stage Up said, up to 20 percent more than last term.

This will help it retain third place behind the English Premier League and Germany's Bundesliga in revenue terms despite its low stadium attendance figures.

"The 2010/11 season can be considered as a season of opportunities for Serie A," StageUp said in a statement, urging clubs to develop other sources of revenues.

European football's governing body UEFA has approved rules forcing clubs to live within their means, with a break-even target by 2013.

However, Italian clubs might find it more difficult than their European peers to meet the austerity rules, StageUp said, as political and economic uncertainty slow plans for new stadiums and keep investors cautious.

Juventus, whose new stadium is due for completion for next season, have not announced a sponsor for the arena yet while treble winners Inter Milan posted an operative loss of 150 million euros in the 2008/09 season, mainly due to wage costs.

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