Even as Serie A is enjoying an enriched global appeal following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, the Italian football has suffered a major setback after the second run club football competition in the country Serie B, the second division of the country’s club football, has been put under suspension amidst escalating legal row.
The league chairman has denied the reports saying it is a step taken in haste.
The decision came after a successful appeal by club Pro Vercelli against the decision to limit the teams taking part in the competition. The row has now taken a serious magnitude following the financial collapse of three teams – Bari, Avellino and Cesena – last month.
The new season of Serie B kicked-off with just 19 sides following the three teams going bankrupt. Serie C teams Siena, Novara, Catania, Ternana and Pro Vercelli protested the decision, arguing that the league should have 22 clubs, with three teams moving up a division.
After Bari, Cesena and Avellino, which finished in mid-table last season were relegated to the fourth tier, Serie D, due to financial irregularities, league officials – who deny any upcoming fixtures have been postponed – decided that the 2018/19 Serie B season would consist of 19 teams instead of the usual 22.
After organisers agreed to make the league a 19-team competition for this season, Pro Vercelli – along with other relegated clubs Novara and Ternana – appealed against the decision, arguing that their second-tier status should be reinstated.
Serie C clubs Siena and Catania also lodged appeals after losing out in the promotion play-offs – hoping the league would promote more clubs from the third tier if last year’s relegated teams were to remain demoted.
Pro Vercelli’s successful appeal overturned a decision by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) rejecting their case to be reinstated in Serie B. CONI’s Franco Frattini, who works within the organisation’s High Court of Sports Justice, has said that the league has been suspended until 9th October – despite Serie B chiefs denying this.
Frattini told Italian radio that a decision on the structure of the competition will be made on Friday, with the teams taking part in a potential 22-team league to be determined on Monday – if it is decided that three teams are to be added to the roster.
Fixtures in both Serie B, which is already done with four rounds, and Serie C, which is yet to start, have been delayed until then.
However, a statement from Lega Serie B read: “The declarations of president Franco Frattini are in haste. Instead, the league will continue, regularly, because that is what millions of fans want and there is no ruling that forces its suspension.”