Fiorentina, Lazio get Serie A reprieve

Juventus’s relegation from the top-flight of Italian football was confirmed on Tuesday but Lazio and Fiorentina were reinstated after a final appeal into the match-fixing scandal that has rocked Serie A.

Fiorentina and Lazio were both restored to the top division, having originally been demoted to Serie B for their part in the scandal.

Fiorentina start the new campaign with a 19-point handicap, while Lazio have an 11-point penalty.

But Juve, who had been most heavily implicated, had their relegation to Serie B confirmed. The Turin giants, however, had their points handicap slashed from 30 to 17, giving them some hope of gaining promotion next season.

The fourth club involved, AC Milan, had escaped relegation in the original sentencing but were given a 15-point handicap. However, this has now been cut to eight following the appeal hearing.

Most significantly, Milan will now be able to play in the preliminary tournament for next season’s Champions League—a lucrative reprieve that is likely to earn them millions should they qualify for the main draw.

Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio will not be allowed to take part in European competition next season.

Juventus and Fiorentina had qualified for the Champions League (direct entry into Champions League for Juve and a place in the third qualifying round for Fiorentina) and Lazio had clinched a Uefa Cup place.

Inter Milan and Roma will have direct entry into the Champions League group stages, while Chievo and Milan will go into the third qualifying round.

The revised sentences were handed down by Piero Sandulli, the president of the Italian football federation’s court of appeal at the Parco Dei Principi hotel.

Despite regaining their top-flight status, neither Lazio president Claudio Lotito or his Fiorentina counterpart Diego Della Valle were particularly happy.

“I’m really not satisfied,” Lotito groaned.
“Lazio haven’t broken any rules.

“The fact that we can’t compete in the Uefa Cup isn’t in line with the truth.”

“It’s the first step, but Fiorentina are innocent,” scoffed Della Valle.

“We will go to every court to try and clear our name and prove that we did nothing wrong. We will continue to protest our innocence until we get our Champions League place back, which we earned on the pitch.”

Due to the weight of damning evidence against them, Juventus had already been stripped of the two league titles they won in 2005-06 and in 2004-05.

The original punishments were handed out to the disgraced clubs just five days after Italy won the World Cup.

The clubs had been pleading their cases for more lenient sentences since Saturday.

The match-fixing scandal broke in May after transcripts of former Juventus general manager Luciano Moggi telling the head of Italy’s referees association which officials to appoint to specific Juve games were published in Italian papers.—AFP

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