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Football | Italy

Massimo Cellino © Action Images

Cagliari ask fans to stay away



Sardinian club Cagliari have asked their fans not to go to the Is Arenas for their Serie A clash with Torino on Sunday after the match was ordered to be played behind closed doors.

"Dear fans, as you know, due to the complex situation regarding the Is Arenas Stadium, the authorities have decided that Cagliari-Torino will be played behind closed doors," the club said in a statement on their website.

"We know that this is painful, to not see your team and not support us in a game important for survival, and for both you and us this is a reason for sadness.

"As it is easy to understand, Cagliari is in delicate moment, and for this we ask for your help, understanding and sense of responsibility. The future of Cagliari is in your hands."

Serie A authorities ordered the match be played at the Is Arenas but behind closed doors on Wednesday, the latest in a long running series of incidents surrounding the controversial stadium.

Last Thursday, Cagliari president Massimo Cellino was arrested along with Stefano Lilliu, public works assessor for the Quartu Sant'Elena neighbourhood where the stadium is located, and the district's mayor Mauro Contini. They were charged with embezzlement and false representation in the rebuilding of the stadium.

Cagliari moved to the small Is Arenas stadium, which had previously hosted third-tier matches in the 1980s, at the start of this season but, with only one permanent stand, they have had trouble from the outset.

Three temporary stands were built but their opening match against Atalanta was staged behind closed doors after local authorities ruled the stadium was not ready.

Their following match against AS Roma was cancelled by the Cagliari city government after the club defied its orders to play without supporters.

On that occasion, Cellino told fans the ground was safe, invited them to turn up for the match and slammed the city government for placing bureaucratic obstacles in the club's way.

Roma were awarded a 3-0 win but Cellino won a court case last week which could lead to the game having to be played after all.

Less high profile matches proceeded at the Is Arenas but Cagliari were banned from hosting a game against champions Juventus in the stadium and had to switch that fixture to Parma.

Their match against AC Milan on February 10. was initially set to be moved to Turin amid security worries but eventually went ahead at the stadium after a regional tribunal ruled it was safe.

Cagliari played at the Stadio Sant'Elia from 1970 until around halfway through last season but abandoned the arena due to disagreements with the local authorities and over growing safety worries.

They played their remaining matches last term in Trieste, near the border with Slovenia and nearly 1,000 kilometres away.

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