Serie A’s title race could be decided by a play-off as the ongoing coronavirus crisis threatens an early conclusion to the 2019-20 football season, the Italian Football Federation has confirmed.
Following a government decree issued on Monday, Italy is on lockdown and all public gatherings are banned until April 3.
This development also means all sporting events in that timeframe have been postponed, throwing Serie A – which had previously been due to continue behind closed doors – into doubt.
Should Serie A resume on April 4, teams will have between 12 and 14 matches to cram in before the end of May, while some sides also have European ties to contend with.
FIGC has a limited amount of time to work with too, given Euro 2020 is set to begin in Rome on June 12, meaning facilities will need to be handed over to UEFA well in advance.
Italy’s governing body is considering its options, accepting Serie A could either: finish early; be decided by play-offs; or simply halted and the title would go to no one.
A statement on the FIGC website read: “With reference to the recovery of Serie A matches, taking into account that the other leagues [Serie B, Serie C et cetera] have no international deadlines and therefore a wider margin of programming, the federal president proposed to the Serie A league to take advantage of all the dates available until May 31.
“If the COVID-19 emergency does not allow the conclusion of the championships, president Gabriele Gravina has submitted to the attention of the leagues concerned some hypotheses on which to discuss in the meeting of the Federal Council on 23 March.
“Without any order of priority, a hypothesis could be the non-assignment of the title of Campione of Italy and consequent communication to UEFA of the teams that qualified for the European competitions [Champions League and Europa League]; another would be to refer to the rankings accrued up to the moment of interruption; third and last hypothesis, to play only the play-offs for the title of Campione d’Italia and the play-offs for relegation to Serie B.”
As it stands, Juventus are top of Serie A with 63 points – one clear of Lazio. Brescia, SPAL and Lecce occupy the three relegation spots, with the latter tied on 25 points with 17th-placed Genoa.
As of Tuesday, Italy is the most-affected European nation, with 9,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19.