MILAN (Agencies): Until recently, the Italian football fans had been enjoying the Serie A title race between, Lazio, Inter Milan, and Juventus as underdog Atalanta hit the headlines with a phenomenal season in the Champions League after moving to quarterfinals by eliminating Spain’s Valencia.
Also, the Italian football lovers had been eager to watch their nations in UEFA EURO 2020.
But now the Serie A title race or Italy’s possible performance in EURO 2020 is no longer a hot topic in the discussions since all of the sports events were suspended indefinitely or will take place behind the closed doors, as the country imposed a national lockdown to stem the dramatic spread of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Serie A matches have been postponed until the beginning of April due to fears of the virus. The future of Italy’s top football division’s current season is doubtful, and people wonder if the league will be completed or its suspension extended.
The football authorities believe that Serie A will need extra time to complete the season before EURO 2020 will start in June since the league matches were canceled amid the coronavirus crisis.
Sports journalist Gabriele Marcotti, who works as a senior writer for ESPN, believes that it is not possible to now predict the fate of Serie A as the coronavirus continues to spread across Italy.
“They’re pretty clear on the fact that public health comes first, understandably. I think it’s highly unlikely that all the fixtures will be completed unless EURO 2020 is moved. If they do play again this year it will be in some kind of playoff scenario.”
The Italian Football Federation has already requested the suspension of EURO 2020 to have time to complete Serie A.
The Euro 2020 campaign will due to start on June 12 with the opening match between Italy and Turkey in Rome.
The UEFA announced there will be a videoconference meeting on Tuesday with the representatives of its 55 member associations, the boards of the European Club Association, and the European Leagues to talk on the future of this year’s UEFA events.
All matches in the UEFA events have already been postponed due to concerns related to the spread of COVID-19.
If Serie A suspended completely, two possible scenarios on table
According to Marcotti, there are two possible scenarios on the table if Serie A is suspended completely.
“There are two scenarios. Either declare that the current standings are as the final table and make decisions on title-winners, European places and relegated clubs accordingly or declare this season is null and void, do not assign a title winner and have no relegation,” he said.
If the Italian Football Federation would have not declared a title winner and assign have no relegation, Marcotti stressed that they would have to figure out how to assign European places, likely using the current table.”
Defending champions Juventus currently lead Serie A by one point ahead of Lazio and nine points ahead of third-placed Inter Milan.
Brescia, SPAL and Lecce are now in the relegation zone.
11 Serie A players diagnosed with novel coronavirus
It is still not clear when the matches will resume even if Italy improves their response to the coronavirus in the short term within a best-case scenario in fighting COVID-19.
A total of 11 Serie A players from three clubs have tested positive for the virus so far.
Daniele Rugani of Juventus became the first infected Serie A player followed by seven Sampdoria players: Omar Colley, Albin Ekdal, Antonio La Gumina, Fabio Depaoli, Bartosz Bereszynski, Manolo Gabbiadini, and Morten Thorsby.
Dusan Vlahovic along with Patrick Cutrone and German Pezzella of Fiorentina were also tested positive.
“The people I’ve spoken to tell me that by the end of next month we’ll have a sense of whether the lockdown in Italy is working and, if so, a potential timetable for things to return to normality,” Marcotti said.
Coronavirus to hit club’s revenues
The coronavirus will also have a negative impact on the clubs’ incomes as it will likely see a considerable drop in the football teams’ commercial and matchday revenues.
“I think it’s reductive to talk about effects on Italian football, given almost all major leagues have stopped. The main issue is match day revenue, of course. As far as TV and commercial revenue, that will depend on whether TV companies/sponsors demand money back and how that happens,” Marcotti said.
He added there would also be an “obvious cash flow problem” but this problem can be solved through legislation by giving more time to pay taxes.
According to Forbes, reigning champions Juventus would lose $122 million in revenue amid coronavirus outbreak.
Italy became the worst-hit country in Europe by the coronavirus with death toll surging to 1,809.
According to the latest figures provided by the Italian Civil Protection Department, the total number of confirmed cases has risen 16% to reach 20,603 in the country.
The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and the World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.
According to Worldometer, a website that compiles new case numbers, the virus has so far spread to nearly 160 countries and territories.
Out of roughly 174,000 confirmed cases, the global death toll is over 6,600, while more than 77,500 of them have recovered.
The current number of active cases worldwide is over 89,500, with 93% in mild condition, and 7% in critical condition.