Threat to the start of Serie A

The kick-off to Serie A season may be pushed back but Juventus fans are flocking to buy season tickets at new stadium.

    Juventus players will have to wait longer to contest decisions if agreement is not reached soon [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Italian Players' Association (AIC) president Damiano Tommasi has threatened to delay the start of the Serie A season unless the Italian Football League signs a new collective agreement.

    The old agreement ran out a year ago and twice last season player strikes were planned before being called off as negotiations progressed.

    But Tommasi, a former Italy and Roma midfielder, says the kick-off on August 27 will be postponed unless the agreement is signed by all parties.

    "Yes, the league kick-off is at risk," he told SkySport24.

    "The collective agreement needs to be signed and that needs to happen before the season can start.

    "Even the Italian Football Federation (Figc) president (Giancarlo Abete) has said it.

    "It would be hard for the players to not take to the pitch but we need their rights to be put in black and white, and it's not an economic question.

    "The players are united in their intent; I've visited 90 percent of Serie A teams."

    The original dispute was over the rights of clubs to force certain conditions, including transfers, on players approaching the end of their contracts.

    All points have been agreed accept one relating to players no longer part of the first team squads, with the Football League asking for greater flexibility over the article.

    Tommasi's predecessor Sergio Campana signed the agreement last season but the Football League has yet to put pen to paper.

    "We've found an agreement and underlined it. I keep hearing that we're very close, but the little that's missing from the League's side never arrives," said Tommasi.

              AIC president Damiano Tommasi is pushing for new agreement to be signed [GALLO/GETTY] 

    "This has been dragging on since last season. In the previous months we decided not to strike while the league was ongoing but this time if we don't get a conclusion it won't begin."

    However, Juventus supporters haven't been put off by the recent contract disagreement flocking in their thousands to snap up season tickets for the upcoming campaign in the club's new stadium.

    Juve spent the last five years playing at the Stadio Olympico in Turin since leaving their former Stadio delle Alpi home, which they bought from the local council in 2003, in order to rebuild a stadium on that site.

    And now 23,000 people have bought season tickets for the 41,000-capacity stadium, an increase of 56 percent on last season's figure of 14,600 season ticket holders.

    The new stadium will be inaugurated on September 8, when it's official name will be revealed.

    Despite being the best-supported club in Italy, on average Juve only filled one third of the 67,000-capacity Stadio delle Alpi.

    The Stadio Olympico wasn't much more popular with Juve rarely filling out the 28,000-seater stadium which they shared with city neighbours Torino, who will remain there.

    But the new stadium is more intimate than the old Stadio delle Alpi as there is no running track, meaning fans will be closer to the action.

    Serie-ous scandal

    Serie A team Chievo were fined $115,000 on Wednesday for their role in the calcioscommesse betting scandal that has blighted Italian football all summer.

    Vittorio Micolucci, a defender with Serie B side Ascoli, struck a deal with prosecutors and received a reduced ban of 14 months.

    Chievo are one of two Serie A sides in the dock in Rome over the football betting scandal, the other being newly-promoted Atalanta.

    There are 18 teams, including two amateur sides, and 26 people including players, former players, presidents and directors due to be judged by federal prosecutor Stefano Palazzi.

    The scandal came to light at the end of last season following the revelation of an investigation by the Prosecutor of Cremona that started in November 2010.

    Chievo were fined over the behaviour of Stefano Bettarini, who was registered on their books as a player in a publicity stunt - he never actually played for the club.

    Bettarini had retired from football in 2005 and had not played since, instead forging a career in television.
    He is charged with trying to manipulate matches to fix bets.

    Micolucci's ban is for association with illicit betting activities but was reduced from the three years requested by prosecutors due to his collaboration with investigators.

    The best known individual caught up in the scandal is former Italy and Lazio striker Guiseppe Signori, accused of being one of the heads of the criminal gang fixing matches.



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