Serie B to remain at 19 teams until Nov. 15, final verdict is delayed again

Serie B could be extended from 19 to 22 teams Danilo Di Giovanni/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Italy's Serie B will continue with just 19 clubs until at least Nov. 15 after a decision over reintegrating three clubs was once again put back.

The regional administrative tribunal of Lazio (TAR) last week ruled that the Italian FA were wrong to reduce the league from 22 clubs in the summer after Avellino, Bari and Cesena all went bankrupt.

In previous years, any club unable to obtain a licence would have been replaced either by reinstating a team who would otherwise have been relegated or promoting an additional club, with several criteria considered as part of the process.

Catania, Novara, Pro Vercelli, Siena, Virtus Entella and Ternana all felt they should have been awarded a place in Serie B this season, but the Italian FA thought differently and ordered the season to start with 19 clubs -- overstepping their authority, according to the TAR.

The Italian FA board met on Tuesday to discuss the situation, but a final decision has again been put back -- as had already happened following a meeting to discuss the TAR's verdict late last week -- with president Gabriele Gravina calling on all clubs in Italy's second and third divisions to carry on as normal for the time being.

"We need to give an answer to the millions of Italian fans involved in this situation," Gravina said at a news conference in Rome. "And we also need to bear in mind that, come Nov. 15, 13 rounds of matches will have been played in Serie B.

"We want to respect the sporting competition and we cannot just be stubborn because that would be irresponsible; and we must not make an already bad situation worse. I hope that everybody will play as normal this Sunday and I am sure this wish will be granted by the Lega Pro [third division]. Now is the time to play football."

A final decision over the composition of Serie B and the Lega Pro should therefore be taken when the two league associations meet in mid-November.

In the meantime, Entella have only played one game in the third-tier Lega Pro this season, while Catania have played six games, Novara and Ternana five and Vercelli four, with the tenth round of matches scheduled for the coming weekend.

The Lega Pro released a statement on Tuesday confirming that all five clubs' weekend fixtures should go ahead.