Italian football backs playoffs if season suspended again

The stands are thinly populated as Juventus play Inter in the Serie A in March at the height of the outbreak. (AP pic)

ROME: Italy’s football bosses approved on Monday the holding of playoffs should the restarting season be suspended again and an algorithm with which to decide the league table should the campaign come to a definitive halt.

Serie A starts up again on June 20 after three months away, and with Italy one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus its football authorities have backed contingency plans in case of a new spike in infections.

“Football is the winner,” said Italian Football Federation (FIGC) chief Gabriele Gravina after the approval via a vote in Rome.

“We are restarting on June 20 with the aim of finishing the season. Until July 10-15, we will keep in mind the possibility of holding playoffs.”

Gravina added that the format of the playoffs, which would be held to decide top places and relegation positions, will be decided “alongside the league before the restart”.

The season will recommence with the four games in hand that were left to play before Covid-19 shut down global sport. There are also 12 full rounds of matches still to play.

Should it not be possible to play those games, league positions will be decided by a mathematical formula.

That formula will take into account the number of points gathered by each team throughout the season and other factors, including average points per home and away game, multiplied respectively by the number of home and away matches each side has left to play.

The algorithm would be used to decide league positions, European qualification and relegation, but not to decide who wins the league title.

A champion will only be named if the season is completed or if a team cannot be caught before a premature end of the campaign.

Serie A clubs are opposed to the algorithm and wanted to block relegation to Serie B should the season be stopped again, but lost Monday’s vote 18 to three.

The FIGC also announced that Italy’s summer transfer window will be held between Sept 1 and Oct 5. The winter window will open on Jan 4 next year and close at the end of that month.