Serie A asks broadcasters to make final payment for this season
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A view of the Stadio Olimpico stadium prior to the Serie A match between AS Roma and Lecce in Rome, Italy, February 23, 2020. /VCG

A view of the Stadio Olimpico stadium prior to the Serie A match between AS Roma and Lecce in Rome, Italy, February 23, 2020. /VCG

Italy's top flight football league Serie A said on Tuesday that broadcast rights holders must pay the final installment for the current season, which has been halted due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Serie A was suspended on March 9 and the Italian government will decide on Thursday whether it will give its permission for the championship to restart, playing matches without spectators.

Italy's top pay-TV operator SKY, sports streaming service DAZN and global sports agency IMG have not paid the final installment for the 2019/2020 season, totaling around 220 million euros (241 million U.S. dollars), sources previously said.

"Lega Serie A's executive committee confirms ... that contractual conditions need to be respected," the league said in a statement.

Serie A previously called on the rights holders to "respect the payment deadlines set out in the contracts in order to maintain a constructive relationship" at a meeting two weeks ago.

Sky's chief executive Maximo Ibarra told the Ansa news agency earlier this month that it wanted to negotiate a solution with Serie A but none of its suggestions had received a response.

Italian Sport Minister Vincenzo Spadafora (L) and SS Lazio president Claudio Lotito attend the celebrations for the 120th anniversary of the SS Lazio in Rome, Italy, January 8, 2020. /VCG

Italian Sport Minister Vincenzo Spadafora (L) and SS Lazio president Claudio Lotito attend the celebrations for the 120th anniversary of the SS Lazio in Rome, Italy, January 8, 2020. /VCG

Italian Sports Minister suggests free access to Serie A live matches

Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora has also suggested that matches could be broadcast free-to-air.

According to Sport Business, this is "a similar system" introduced by the German pay-television broadcaster Sky Deutschland for the return of Bundesliga matches.

"We should definitely think about it also in Italy, it will avoid gatherings in public places and bars," Spadafora said to Italian public broadcaster Rai recently.

The installment is part of a 1.3 billion euro (1.42 billion U.S. dollars) annual free-watch rights holders pour into Serie A's club coffers to screen matches under a three-year agreement expiring next season.

Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Juventus competes for the ball with Antonio Candreva of FC Internazionale during the Serie A match played without spectators in Turin, Italy, March 8, 2020. /VCG

Cristiano Ronaldo (R) of Juventus competes for the ball with Antonio Candreva of FC Internazionale during the Serie A match played without spectators in Turin, Italy, March 8, 2020. /VCG

Players slam Serie A's afternoon kick-off plan

Serie A is hoping to resume on June 13 following the coronavirus stoppage and would have to rush through 12 match days in a short space of time to complete the 2019-20 season.

Several media reports said that Serie A was planning to stagger matches being played on the same day with kick-offs at 4:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time.

"Play at 16:30 in the middle of summer, June or July? There's no way we're playing at that time," said Umberto Calcagno, the vice-president of the Italian Players' Association, in an interview with La Repubblica.

"The (club) presidents just think of the television, not the health of the players."

Brescia captain Daniele Gastaldello was also concerned. "You're risking the safety of the players," he told state broadcaster Rai in a radio interview.

"Playing so many games, with high temperatures, won't be easy. Playing at 16:30 is scandalous, it's not feasible."

Former Italy national team doctor Enrico Castellacci said it reminded him of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"It's hard to play at that time because it's very hot in the summer," he said in a radio interview.

"I remember the World Cup in Brazil, we played with 90 percent humidity at one o'clock in the afternoon. These are difficult conditions to withstand. It's a time of day that I would have avoided."

Source(s): Reuters