Serie A will resume on June 20 after the Italian government gave its approval on Thursday.
After a short and decisive conference meeting featuring Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora, the Lega Serie A and Italian Football Federation presidents, and representatives from the Players’ Association and the Association of Italian Sports Medics, a decision to resume the top-flight in Italy was taken.
Serie A was the first of Europe’s major leagues to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with games postponed and played behind closed doors before the league was halted completely.
The Italian Football Federation will decide on the time frames for Serie A games but it is expected that teams will play every three days across three different time slots: at 5pm, 7.15pm, and 9.30pm (Italian time).
Earlier on Thursday, the Italian government’s technical-scientific committee approved a revised medical protocol to stage Serie A games, giving the all-clear for the league to restart.
“It was a very useful meeting and, as we had said from the start, football was always going to resume when we had the conditions to ensure safety and the committee gave the go-ahead to the protocol,” said Spadafora.
“Italy is getting back on track and it is only fair that football should too. The committee agreed with the protocol, but confirmed the absolute necessity for a quarantine period if a player tests positive.
“We also received guarantees the process of player testing will not affect or detract from the general population’s access to testing in any way.”
“The league will restart June 20,” Spadafora said. “There’s then the possibility that the Italian Cup semifinals and final can be played on June 13 and 17.”
The first legs of the semifinals had already been played before the lockdown, with AC Milan drawing 1-1 against Juventus and Napoli winning 1-0 at Inter Milan.
The rights for the cup matches are owned by Italy’s RAI state television.
There are 12 rounds remaining in Serie A, plus four matches that were postponed from the 25th round.
Juventus, which is bidding for a record-extending ninth successive Serie A title, has a one-point advantage over Lazio. Third-place Inter Milan is nine points behind Juventus but has played a match less.
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The Lega Serie A is set to have a meeting on Friday where it could formalize the calendar.
Serie B, Italy’s second division, also plans to resume June 20.
“Soccer restarting represents a message of hope for the entire country,” federation president Gabriele Gravina said. “Our project is one of great responsibility, because it involves the entire professional world of Serie A, B, C and, hopefully, also the women’s Serie A.”
“It would be a good signal because you could watch three important matches free-to-air on public channels,” Spadafora added.
However, a major sticking point in the protocol includes a rule which will force Serie A clubs to put their whole team and staff on a two-week quarantine period should any person from the group test positive for COVID-19.
Lega Serie A has called a meeting for Friday morning to discuss the calendar but it is expected that on June 20, Serie A will restart from its four outstanding games remaining from matchweek 25, which are Atalanta vs Sassuolo, Inter vs Sampdoria, Torino vs Parma, and Verona vs Cagliari.
It has also been decided that the two Coppa Italia semi-final return legs – Juventus vs AC Milan and Napoli vs Inter Milan – will be played on June 13, with the final taking place on June 17.
However, for Coppa Italia games to take place on that date, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte needs to sign a special decree giving an exception to the previous decree which banned professional sporting events until June 14.
Spadafora says should Serie A not be able to play out its remaining fixtures, it would resort to introducing a play-off stage or freeze its current standings.