Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis was keen to play up the vast financial gulf between his club and Manchester City after his side’s shock 2-1 win over the big-spending Premiership outfit.
De Laurentiis pointed out Napoli’s dilapidated San Paolo stadium as an example of the difference between them and goaded Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, saying he regarded his club as a toy.
“Our success proves two things. The first is that perhaps money isn’t everything, as even with balanced books you can still go far,” De Laurentiis told reporters following Napoli’s Champions League win on Tuesday.
“The second is that this Napoli side has a strong fibre and can give us great moments,” added the flamboyant film producer turned football club president.
One of Italy’s 1990 World Cup venues, the San Paolo appears to be stuck in a time-warp especially compared to modern venues such as Bayern’s Allianz Arena or City’s own Etihad stadium.
A crumbling running track surrounds the pitch and there is even a South American-style moat between the playing field and the stands.
Chaos reigns outside with hordes of scooters ignoring traffic rules and cars double and triple-parking with the help of self-appointed “parking attendants.”
De Laurentiis said his team had cost around one sixth of the amount of his opponents and admitted the stadium was in poor shape.
“Our stadium is decrepit, but the problem is the recession,” he said. “Here (in Italy), we are broke.
“It’s not easy with the money we (Napoli) get from television, we don’t get enough, they don’t distribute the money fairly.
He said that in stark contrast, Bayern Munich, another of the teams in Group A, had spent 60 million euros ($80.95 million) on car parking alone.
“They generate income from that and that makes a big difference,” said De Laurentiis.
He then warned that Sheikh Mansour, who has poured money into Manchester City, could easily get bored with the club if they don’t start winning.
“I think Mansour just wanted a toy,” said De Laurentiis. “He says that he doesn’t want immediate success but if they don’t win something quickly, he could just go somewhere else and buy another toy.”
Unlike City, who can happily rotate their team and still field 11 international players, Napoli have only a handful of options on the bench and field virtually the same starting line-up in all games.
Having decided to concentrate on the Champions League, Napoli are a modest seventh in Serie A and coach Walter Mazzarri admitted he was not expecting much from their weekend match at Atalanta.
“You can’t play at the same pace in the match following a Champions League week and that’s when we tend to drop points,” he said.