The Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium in Venice is a stadium that has gained attention in recent years. I had the pleasure of going to the stadium in November 2021. There was passion heard from both sets of fans, but the stadium felt a lot more of a joyous affair.
Venezia FC were founded in 1907 and had success in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s, winning a Coppa Italia and finishing third in Serie A during a two-year spell. However, they faced money issues during the turn of the new millennium, filing for bankruptcy in 2002, 2009 and 2015.
Their name has been changed multiple times but the most recent bankruptcy saw their name change to Venezia FC. American attorney Joe Tacopina bought the club out of bankruptcy in July 2015 and in the space of six seasons, they have gone from the non-professional leagues to the very top of the Italian football pyramid. A GQ article spoke of how Venezia went from bankruptcy to the world’s most fashionable club and NSS Sports called them “one of the most aesthetically interesting clubs in the world.”
Their kits represent this by being so universally popular. The stadium feels a lot like Fulham’s Craven Cottage stadium with the walk to the stadium next to the river, with a great atmosphere despite the size.
A Tribe Called Quest figured heavily in the pre-match music played through the speakers. The inclusion of 90’s hip-hop along with stylish kits, represents a hipster attitude from the club. Is this a way to attract more fans and appeal to a younger audience?
England’s answer to this is Forest Green Rovers. With a focus on the environment, they have been described as “uniquely modern.”
FIFA have called them the greenest football club in the world with an organic pitch, electric car charging ports, solar panels and an entirely vegan menu for players and fans.
Can English clubs learn from Venezia? Clubs in the lower leagues certainly can. Venezia may play in one of the most recognisable places in Europe, but are still a small club when it comes to stature and history. The arrival of the kits have put them on the footballing map, in similar fashion to Sheriff, who announced themselves to the world with a win at the Bernabeu Stadium earlier this season. We have seen plenty of clubs in the lower leagues face massive money issues, namely Bury FC and even more well established clubs such as Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday. Sporf wrote that they had the greatest kit of all time and their fourth kit sold out on the club’s official website.
Having the attention means that so many more people know who Venezia FC are compared with just a few years ago. English football is always going to be well known and popular across the world but some of the lower league sides in England and across Europe could learn a lot from the success of Venezia’s marketing strategy.