Italy: And around the clock we go

As the regular season in Italy draws to an end, a slightly irregular post-season looms for those teams still in the race.

The conventional playoff method of those with the winningest records advancing to a seeded set of knock-out games will be delayed this year following the introduction of a ‘clock tournament’.

In this scenario, after each team finishes their regular season matchups this coming weekend, they will have a two-week break followed by two additional games based on their current standings. Each team will play the team either side of them e.g. #2 will play #1 and #3; #1 will play #7 and #2 etc. This two-game series record will then be added to the teams’ final record before a four team two-round conventional playoff series will begin.

Although this has been implemented to give a fairer representation in the playoff run due to limited games this season, many teams have instead found the system to be unfair to those with more favorable standings. The Milano Seamen, for example, are currently seeded in the #2 spot behind Parma Panthers after an impressive one-loss season. They will however be forced to go up against the #1 and #3 seed whereas a Lazio Ducks team – if the season finished today – will go up against a one-win Milano Rhinos squad and two-win Warriors Bologna side.

Below are the current standings in Italy’s Division 1

Both Parma and the Seamen will be expected to come away with comfortable wins this weekend putting them essentially out of reach, even if those teams lower down the table were to win-out. There are however four two-win teams who will look for a third this coming weekend. A situation does then present itself that could see Guelfi taking a stronger position in the standings after a win this weekend and end up playing a strong Seamen team in the next stage; whereas a Lazio team who may lose this weekend could still come out of the ‘clock tournament’ with a position in the playoffs due to their favorable schedule after the regular season finishes.

It may therefore make sense that some teams may actually look for a loss this weekend to allow them to get two easier games – and wins – in the ‘clock tournament’. It does however go without saying that it seems extremely unlikely that a head coach would intentionally throw a game for a number of professional as well as personal reasons.

The Federation of Italian Football (FIDAF) should of course not be berated for this as to put together an almost faultless season amidst a pandemic is nothing short of an astonishing achievement on all levels regardless of playoff implications.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.