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Last Updated: Friday, 29 August, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Italian football crisis recedes
AC Milan
Top clubs like European Champions AC Milan opposed a boycott
A crisis which has threatened to delay the start of Italy's football season appears to be receding, after a deal was struck on Friday over TV rights in the top division.

The country's main pay-TV organisation, Rupert Murdoch's Sky Italia, has reached agreement with a consortium seeking to cover the games of smaller clubs from Serie A over use of the Sky platform.

The six teams in the consortium, Gioco Calcio, had considered joining a boycott by clubs from Serie B protesting against a decision to expand the lower division.

Turn on your passion, turn off your television
Protester's banner
But the Football League, which represents clubs in the top two divisions, decided to postpone Serie B's start by a week.

Nineteen clubs in the division are still protesting against a decision by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to expand it to include four clubs from lower divisions.

The league also passed a motion of no-confidence in FIGC president Franco Carraro.

As the decisions were taken, fans hurled eggs near the league's headquarters.

"Turn on your passion, turn off your television," read one of many banners held by supporters of clubs involved in the dispute.

Decree

Earlier in the week, the Italian football authorities decided to penalise the clubs involved for failing to take part in the group stages of the Italian Cup on Sunday.

Each team was deemed to have suffered a 3-0 defeat and had one point deducted.

GIOCO CALCIO TEAMS
Ancona
Brescia
Chievo
Empoli
Modena
Perugia
The decision to expand Serie B was taken by FIGC last week, after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi issued a decree giving it powers to override the courts.

The decree was designed to prevent legal action over relegation and television fees disputes from delaying the start of the football season.

The crisis led to a recall of parliament on Monday, despite holidays which normally last into September.

The Serie B teams say that the expansion of their division would force them to play more matches while diluting their earnings.

The row stems from a lawsuit brought by the Sicilian team Catania, challenging its relegation to Serie C at the end of last season.


SEE ALSO:
Italy to kick off by decree
20 Aug 03  |  Europe
Italy immunity law provokes fury
25 Jun 03  |  Europe
Italian PM attacks judiciary
30 Jan 03  |  Europe
Serie A season delayed
20 Aug 02  |  Europe


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