Yes disaster has struck and the laziali will have to travel to Florence to watch Lazio home games in European competitions next season, provided of course the biancoceleste qualify.
Media reports spread the news like wild fire, and SS Lazio on their official website confirmed the news.
The reports started by mentioning that SS Lazio in debt to CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) for the money of renting Olimpico failed to secure the money needed to renew the rent for next season, and to apply to the UEFA license, Lazio must specify a home stadium, and Olimpico not being an option, Lotito struck a deal with Fiorentina and applied with Artimio Franchi as the home ground.
Then in an official statement by SS Lazio, the news was confirmed. Lazio have applied to UEFA with Artimio Franchi as the home ground.
However SS Lazio clarified in a press release the reasons behind this and the press release is translated as follows.
SS Lazio in reply to the media reports about the participation in European competitions issues the following:
1) SS Lazio is bound by an agreement with CONI since before the management change occured. The agreement stated that Lazio were to pay CONI 110,000 euros per game in addition to 50 % of the ticket revenue from the authorities stands (tribuna autorita) which are a total of 115 seats; two stages for the honorary seats totalling of 25 seats; the whole section of Tribuna d'onore destra (a total of 411 seats), 60 seats in tribuna d'onore sinistra; 400 seats in Monte Mario, and 200 service seats in addition to 100 seats in the distini section, not to mention other benefits.
2) SS Lazio has repeatedly tried to renogotiate new contract terms with CONI but CONI has made the economic and regulatory conditions difficult, and thus no agreement has been reached with others since CONI is the owner of the only sports facility in Rome.
3) Lazio pays CONI on average around 3 million euros, in addition to installments of debts from the previous management amounting to 2 million euros. Not to mention that Lazio has paid for a third of the renovations of Olimpico under the recent regulatory laws of Rome.
4) The current dispute of TV rights profit between the clubs has been stalled and thus all the distribution of profit has been stalled. Lazio had always paid to CONI from the TV rights, and thus the sum of 1,740,000 euros have been suspended which explains why the debt has not been paid yet.
5) Lazio who are now fighting for European places, filed the UEFA application considering Olimpico as their home ground on April 29, 2011 after previously agreeing with CONI who confirmed that Olimpico will be available for next season.
6) CONI then on the same day filed a letter to Lazio that Olimpico will not be available to Lazio until all the debts have been cleared.
7) Despite all the assurances given by SS Lazio, along with full documentations delivered, and despite all the previous history of commitment that Lazio showed to CONI in paying the debts every year, CONI has refused to budge and informed Lazio of their decision on the day of the deadline of the UEFA application.
8) Lazio only learned of this news on a very short notice, and only minutes before the deadline, and thus had no choice to ensure their supporters and ensure all the revenues coming from European competitions had no other choice but to communicate with the city of Florence which mentioned that Artimio Franchi is available for rent next season to host the European games of Lazio should the position of CONI not change.
9) SS Lazio assures that their decision is not intended to run away from settling debts immediately but rather a solution to insure that ,despite all of what is happening, Lazio participates in UEFA competition.
10) All of the above confirms that there is a need to free the professional football world from institutions and thus there is a crucial need to legislate laws that allow this in the benefit of the sports and its popular support.
This ends the press release by Lazio.
It is worth mentioning that there are rules in FIGC which force the teams whose headquarters in a certain city play their home games in that city. Thus Lazio theoretically will not be able to play their Serie A home games anywhere but Olimpico, and thus in case CONI refused to allow Lazio to rent the field, Lazio could fail to play in Serie A next season.
However Lazio seem to have gotten a green light from FIGC for them to submit such an application.
LazioLand.com will keep you updated with everything related to this story as it evolves.