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FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the ancient Colosseum, downtown Rome, Italy, May 28, 2017. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini


ROME (Reuters) - Italy's top administrative court awarded victory to the government in a dispute over the management of the Colosseum amphitheatre on Monday, rejecting objections from Rome's anti-establishment mayor.

The verdict is the final twist in a tussle over the 2,000-year-old venue for gladiator fights, and will allow the government to proceed with a project to manage it separately from the rest of the city's attractions.

City hall, run by the 5-Star Movement, had attacked the plan and voiced concerns Rome would lose some of the income brought in by the Colosseum's roughly 6 million visitors each year, amounting to some 35 million euros ($41 million).

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini applauded the decision, which overturned a ruling by a regional court which had taken 5-Star's side in June. [nL8N1J45K9]

"The Council of State ruling does real justice," Franceschini said in a statement, referring to the top court. "Now we can go ahead with reform and innovation."

The plan to create a new archaeological park with the amphitheatre as its centrepiece is part of a sweeping reform begun in 2014 to modernise and make more money from Italy's vast cultural heritage.

Monday's decision is the second in two months to overturn previous rulings on the reform by the same regional court, which had also suspended five of 20 new museum directors. [nL8N1JC5MF]

The Colosseum's new management board will include Irina Bokova, the director-general of United Nations cultural body UNESCO, Franceschini said.

Ticket income increased 12 percent at Italy's 400 state museums last year, according to the culture ministry, after years of alleged poor management and insufficient funding.

(Reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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