Deadly decree

Relegation and points deduction for Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio; AC Milan remains in Serie `A', but is docked points, writes Cindy Garcia-Bennett.

Juventus President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli has announced his club will appeal against the punishment handed out following the investigation into match-fixing. The Italian Federal Appeal Commission found Juventus, Lazio, Fiorentina and AC Milan guilty of match-fixing with the Turin side hit hardest by the verdict.

Juve have been relegated to Serie `B' and will start next season with a 30-point deficit, as well as being stripped of the league titles they won in the past two seasons. Fiorentina and Lazio were also relegated and will start the campaign with 12 and seven-point deficits respectively, while AC Milan retain their Serie `A' status but will start next season with a 15-point deficit. Milan have also been docked 44 points from their tally last season. However, Cobolli Gigli has reacted angrily to the news and vowed to fight the punishment. "This verdict is unheard of," he said. "We expected a balanced sentence not only in form but in substance, our expectations were different ones. We could have expected relegation to the second division but to be also handed a 30-point deduction is almost like relegation to the third division. We will appeal."

Fiorentina also immediately announced their intentions to appeal against the punishment. Milan managed to avoid the drop to Serie `B' but were also unhappy with the verdict, which means they will not be able to play in the Champions League next season. Former Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani was one of several individuals also punished as a result of the investigation. Galliani was handed a one-year suspension from all football activities while Lazio president Claudio Lotito was banned for three years and his Fiorentina counterpart, Andrea Della Valle, was given a four-year punishment.

Former Juve general manager Luciano Moggi, who was at the centre of the investigation after his telephone conversations with a referee supremo in charge of the appointments of officials during the 2004-05 season were tapped, was suspended for five years. "I'm not saddened for myself but for the teams involved and for their fans," said Moggi.

Referee Massimo De Santis, who had been due to officiate at the World Cup before becoming embroiled in the investigation, has been suspended from football for four and a half years and former FIGC president Franco Carraro was also handed a four-year suspension.

The decision to strip Juve of their title means the Turin club will not be allowed to play in the Champions League next season, while Lazio are also barred from taking part in the UEFA Cup. Subject to any appeals, the rulings mean that Inter Milan and Roma will gain automatic qualification to the Champions League, with Chievo and Palermo going into the qualifiers for the tournament. Livorno, Parma and Empoli will be entered into the UEFA Cup. In addition, Lecce, Messina, and Treviso will avoid relegation to Serie `B' and keep their places in the top flight as a result of the verdict.

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