Italy's Serie B to stick with 19 teams after chaotic close season

Bari Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Italy's second-tier Serie B will continue with the unusual number of 19 teams after appeals from a further six clubs to be included were rejected by an arbitration tribunal on Tuesday.

Franco Frattini, president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) tribunal, told reporters CONI had voted 3-2 not to allow any additions to the championship which started two weeks ago.

Serie B usually has 22 teams but three of those who should have played this season were barred for financial reasons.

Bari and Cesena, both former Serie A clubs, were declared bankrupt while Avellino were refused a licence because of a lack of financial guarantees, leading to a close season of chaos in the lower reaches of Italian football.

The Italian football federation (FIGC) began drawing up plans for a playoff competition to find three replacements but in August accepted a request from the Serie B league to go ahead with 19 clubs.

However, six clubs then appealed to CONI -- Virtus Entella, Novara, Pro Vercelli and Ternana, who were relegated from Serie B last season, plus Siena and Catania, who reached the Serie C promotion playoffs.

The CONI tribunal had the three options of rejecting the appeal, allowing all six to take part in Serie B or organising a playoff competition to determine three extra participants.

Mauro Balata, president of Serie B, welcomed the ruling and said it could usher in long-term change.

"Now, Serie B can continue with a reduction in the number of teams which could signal the change of a system which has become unsustainable and incapable of reforming itself," he said.

Tuesday's decision means the third tier Serie C championship, which features 60 teams and has twice been postponed due to uncertainty over who will take part, can finally draw up its fixture list and get underway.