March 5, 2018 / 9:30 PM / 19 days ago

Soccer: Italy to close window early, play matches at Christmas

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy will close the summer transfer window on Aug. 18 this year, one day before the start of the Serie A season, and schedule matches on Dec. 26, the league’s extraordinary commissioner Giovanni Malago said on Monday.

File Picture: Italy's Olympic Committee chief Giovanni Malago talks during a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

The decision to shut the window early follows the example of the English Premier League which decided in September to end the transfer window before the season gets underway.

Until now, the window has closed at the beginning of September in most European countries, after the start of the season, leading to widespread complaints that transfer speculation overshadows the football itself.

Coaches also say they cannot prepare properly for the new campaign as they often lose key players after a few matches.

Malago, who is president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), also told reporters that Serie A would stage two rounds of matches between Christmas and the New Year, again following the English Premier League model.

However, there would then be a three-week winter break.

“Next season, matches will be played on December 22, 26 and 29 and the championship will restart on Jan. 20,” he said, adding that the winter transfer window would also end before the championship resumes.

Italy has traditionally had a break over Christmas and the New Year but changed this season when a round of league matches were played on Dec 30 with Coppa Italia games on Dec 26 and 27.

Next season will the first time there has been such an intense programme in the Italian top flight as Serie A competes with the English Premier League for global attention.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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