The fallout from the biggest match-fixing scandal in European football for years was as severe as expected with Juventus, Italy’s most successful club, found guilty and relegated to the second division, Serie B.

They will be joined there by ex-champions Fiorentina and Lazio, who were also relegated. Silvio Berlusconi’s AC Milan were also implicated but will remain in Serie A after escaping with a points deduction.

Juventus can expect to spend at least two seasons in Italian football's second tier as they will start next season on minus thirty points. The Old Lady, as the club is known, was also stripped of its Serie A titles in 2005 and 2006.

Individual ban

Lazio and Fiorentina were deducted seven points and 12 points respectively. AC Milan were deducted 15 and had their points tally from last season reduced by 44, ruling them out of European competitions next season along with the three other clubs.

Fiorentina's Luca Toni could be
one of the Italy stars on his way


As well as the four clubs, 26 individuals were on trial for sporting fraud.

The former general manager of Juventus at the centre of the scandal, Luciano Moggi, was banned from the game for five years and the ex-Italian Federation president, Franco Carraro, for four and a half years. The vice-president of AC Milan and the presidents of Lazio and Firorentina also received bans.

Angry Juventus fans gathered in front of the club's headquarters in Turin while Fiorentina fans protested in Florence and Lazio voiced their anger outside the Rome hotel where the verdict was announced.

Stunned

The Juventus president, Giovanni Cobolli Gigli, said that he was stunned by the decision and that the club will appeal.

"It's incredible," he said. "We were expecting a fairer sentence. We don't understand how we can be excluded from the championship."

Fiorentina said their relegation was "profoundly unjust" and promised to "fight with all means and in every forum".

The scandal broke after transcripts of Moggi, telling the head of Italy's refereeing commission what officials he wanted appointed to specific games, were published in the Italian media.

Player exodus

For many years in Italian football, smaller clubs have often claimed that Juventus gets preferential treatment from referees at crucial points in matches.

Luciano Moggi was at the centre
of the scandal

Six of the Italy team that began the World Cup final in Berlin on Sunday, and thirteen of the squad in Germany, play for the four clubs implicated in the scandal and many could be playing at new clubs next season.

Most of players declined to speculate on their futures but before Sunday's final, the Juventurs goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had said he was unsure if he would remain with the club.

Fabio Cappello, the Juventus manager last season, left the club last week to join Real Madrid.

The teams will have three days to appeal before a federal court of arbitration and a final decision will be given by July 24.