Serie B Pordenone will be playing out the 2020/21 season with one of football’s quirkiest backdrops.
With their traditional home falling short of Serie B stadium requirements, I neroverdi have moved their base 60km south-east to the Adriatic resort of Lignano Sabbiadoro. The modest Stadio Guido Teghil is typical of municipal stadia the length of the peninsula; comprising a small Tribuna, opposing parterre and the obligatory athletics track. However, it’s the neighbours that set this place apart.
The brightly-coloured Acquasplash waterpark is located just over the stadium wall, sufficiently close that a stray clearance might just find its way into the toddler’s pool. The arcing, twisting tubes of the water slides are an unexpected, but instantly recognisable sight. The colour of the stadium seats have even been chosen to tie in with backdrop.
Perhaps that’s the idea? The municipality of Lignano is no stranger to a marketing wheeze, having added the Sabbiadoro (Goldensands) suffix in 1935 in an attempt to draw in more visitors. The authorities invested to bring the stadium up to Serie B standards and successfully hosted the Italy under-21 team in September. The name of Lignano will appear on the back of neroverdi shirts this season as part of the arrangement, as the resort seeks to expand its out-of-season tourism appeal.
Take a tour of Stadio Teghil in the video below…
Pordenone were promoted to Italy’s second tier at the end of the 2018/19 season. It was the first time the Black Lizards had scaled such heights in their 100-year history; an admirable achievement for a town of just 50,000 people. However, it was a bittersweet moment for fans as a spell in exile beckoned. The dimensions of their home pitch at Stadio Ottavio Bottecchia did not meet Serie B criteria, and renovations were infeasible due to the presence of a velodrome surrounding the pitch.
In a strange premonition of what was to come, the club played out the first part of last season in the echoing depths of Udinese’s Dacia Arena – with an average attendance of just 3,500 in a 25,000-capacity stadium. Post-lockdown, the club move further east to Stadio Nereo Rocco in Trieste to complete the season. Despite this nomadic existence, Pordenone surpassed expectations, competing on one of the lowest budgets in the league, finishing in fourth place. They suffered a semi-final defeat in the play-offs, having won the first leg away to Frosinone there was an agonising capitulation during the return in Trieste.
The shift to Lignano for 2020/21 appears to be a good fit for the club, with the 5,000 capacity venue more in-keeping with their requirements. However, with COVID restrictions still in place, only 500 fans travelled for the first ‘home’ game – a figure that will surely be boosted by the groundhopping fraternity once rules allows. At the time of writing, the club are still searching for their first victory in Lignano, having let leads slip to draw against both SPAL and Reggina so far.
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