Serie A Femminile will undergo a major format change for the 2022/23 season which will see a reduction of teams and a playoff system.
The wholesale changes were announced by the FIGC earlier in February and the new format has not been used in Italy before.
The 2022/23 season will be the first professional campaign for Serie A Femminile and the governing body have decided that it should be a fresh start in more ways than one.
What has changed in Serie A Femminile?
Currently, there are 12 teams in Serie A Femminile. Every team plays each other home and away, with the top team winning the title and qualifying for the UEFA Women’s Champions League, the second team also qualifying for the UWCL, and the bottom three teams being related to Serie B.
With three teams going down this season and only one being promoted from Serie B, there will only be 10 teams in Serie A for the 2022/23 season.
Those teams will play each other home and away (18 games each), but then two mini-leagues will be formed.
The top five will play each other home and away again, (eight games each) with the team finishing top being crowned champions. They will start this mini-league with the points total that they amassed in the regular season.
If this mini-league were to begin right now with the current standings, Roma and Sassuolo would be needing to overturn that six-point gap to Juventus.
As for the bottom five teams, their relation battle will follow the same eight-game each format with the bottom team being relegated to Serie B. The second-bottom team will play in a play-off against the team that finished second in Serie B.
Benefits and drawbacks
This is a system that has been used in the men’s and women’s divisions in European countries such as Belgium and Austria. It can appear very confusing at first but it does add an interesting level of jeopardy to proceedings.
It would stop teams from coasting out at the end of their season if they can’t get any higher or lower. They will need as many points as possible for the mini-league to protect themselves so all 18 games in the regular season should remain competitive.
Given the professionalisation of the league, it makes sense for the players to be pushed harder and play more games in a season as the level of training and nutrition available to them increases and improves, in theory. As the players improve, the league improves. This is how Serie A Femminile can begin attracting more foreign talent and sponsorships to begin competing with other European leagues.
Napoli, with a huge win in Florence, boosted their #SerieAFemminile survival hopes, writes @burns_euan https://t.co/NkqaUhtdF4 pic.twitter.com/U0QJlubbfk
— ForzaItalianFootball (@SerieAFFC) February 8, 2022
More games also mean more coverage on television with already growing audience figures within Italy. One game a week is currently free-to-air on La7 with other games behind a paywall on Timvision. More games also mean more opportunities for fans to go to the matches live, directly supporting the club.
The issue in regard to television is that it has been regularly reported that Timvision’s subscription figures are rapidly falling and they could do with lowering the subscription costs for fans. If they don’t do that, a huge amount of the season could be televised but not actually watched by fans.
An increased number of matches could also mean a lot more injuries for the players if their fitness levels do not quickly improve in line with the number of games.
Overall, there is certainly logic to adapting this new format if the aim is to improve the quality of the players and thereby attract more quality and money to the division. The risk is that the players will simply be asked to play too much football all in the name of growing the league.