Serie A clubs to set up their own league

MILAN: Italy's Serie A clubs plan to break away from the second-tier Serie B and create their own independent top flight, similar to England's Premier League.

All but Lecce of the 20 clubs in Serie A issued a statement on Thursday saying they would be breaking away to set up the "Serie A football league."

"We've made a new first division," Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini told ANSA news agency. "Am I satisfied? No, but it is necessary."

Clubs such as Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan have long campaigned for greater autonomy and have looked enviously at England's Premier League, which created a financial revolution that made its clubs the richest in the world after it broke away from England's Football League in 1992.

Italian clubs have come in for scathing criticism after only Udinese, in the UEFA Cup, reached the quarterfinals of a European competition this season. In response, clubs have said they are unable to compete with the wages offered by English and Spanish sides.

Maurizio Beretta, a former journalist, has been chosen to set up the new league, the statement said.

"The mandate is clear," he told reporters. "To start building a first division. There are various aspects to sort out. The mechanism will be put in place over the next 12 months."

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani told ANSA: "We will start work on this league straight away, because it has to be in operation by July 1, 2010. We have told the president of the Italian federation."