Two weeks into the 2012-13 Serie A campaign, When Saturday Comes’ Richard Mason finds fault with Italy’s top flight for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to unacceptable playing conditions. “One day we might be led by people who understand that football needs spectators if it is to have any meaning and level playing fields if it is to offer them a decent spectacle in return for their money,” opines Mason, who presumably hasn’t attended many baseball games in Miami.

Napoli beat Fiorentina 2-1 on a surface more suitable for beach soccer. It would have been a disgrace at an English non-League ground in January. At a top European club at the beginning of September it is totally unacceptable. The state of the pitch is being blamed on the hot summer (in Naples!) and a virus but the condition has been known for several weeks and nothing has been done so far to remedy it. If referee Antonio Damato had done his job properly he would have ruled the pitch unfit for play, though in reality the decision should already have been taken higher up.

Cagliari and Atalanta drew 1-1 on a perfect surface but in a building site without supporters. Cagliari’s new stadium is being built in the city of Quartu Sant’Elena but as yet it is not ready to admit spectators. Cagliari named Trieste as the venue for their first four home games but during the week players threatened to strike if they could not play in Sardinia. The local authorities declared the building site fit to hold a game but without spectators and the league caved in provided that Atalanta agreed.

A stadium not ready to hold spectators is also not ready to host matches. Obviously the buffoons who are currently in charge of Italian football think otherwise and are prepared to present to the watching world a beach in Napoli’s San Paolo Stadium and the desolation of empty seats in Sardinia.