Serie A title race could be decided by play-offs after coronavirus suspension, Italian FA confirms

The Serie A title could be decided via play-offs after the suspension of the league due to the coronavirus outbreak put the competition's ability to complete all the remaining fixtures before the end of the season in serious doubt.

All sport in Italy has been suspended indefinitely, with the entire country in lockdown until at least April 3 as the government attempts to limit the spread of the virus.

The shutdown will see at least three rounds of Serie A matches postponed to go with the second legs of the Coppa Italia semi-finals that already had to be rearranged.

With potential European matches to take into account as well, the authorities will struggle to fit in all the fixtures before the scheduled end of the season on May 24 even if they were cleared to resume matches at the start of next month.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) met with government officials, the Italian Olympic Committee and representatives from the leagues on Tuesday to discuss a plan of action.

Various options were discussed, including extending the season until the end of May to allow more time to schedule fixtures. However, this would leave little time before the start of Euro 2020, the first match of which is set to be held in Rome in June 12.

Other options include suspending the league and not awarding the title at all, or even organising a play-off to decide both the Scudetto and relegation.

“If the COVID-19 emergency should not allow for the conclusion of the league competitions, president (Gabriel) Gravina put forward some proposals that will be discussed in another meeting on March 23,” read an FIGC statement.

“Without any order of priority, an option would be not assigning the Scudetto and consequently informing UEFA of the teams qualified for Europe.

Parma coronavirus 2019-20

“Another would be referring to the table as it stands up until the moment the season was interrupted.

“A third and final hypothesis would be to organise play-offs for the title of champion of Italy and play-offs to decide relegation into Serie B.”

Juventus currently top the Serie A table with a one-point advantage over second-placed Lazio. Inter are a further eight points back with a game in hand on their rivals.

The Serie A title has been decided via a play-off before back in 1964 when Bologna beat Inter 2-0 to claim the title after both clubs finished level on points at the top of the table.

Serie A rules at the time dictated that a play-off decide the champion rather than traditional tie-breakers such as goal difference or head-to-head.

Italy is one of the European countries to be worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak, though its impact has been felt across the continent.

Domestic matches in France, Germany and Spain will all be played behind closed doors in the coming weeks as authorities seek to limit events that attract large crowds of people.

Champions League and Europa League ties have also been affected while the Swiss Super League shut down completely at the start of the month, with all matches cancelled until March 23.