The Serie A has decided to be different once again from the rest of the major European leagues.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Italian football governing body FIGC said that going forward if two teams finish level on points after the end of the regular season, the destination of the Scudetto will be determined not by goal difference (most commonly used) or even head-to-head record (like the last couple of seasons), but via a playoff game as the tiebreaker.
Should that playoff finish level after ninety minutes, then the game will go straight to penalty kicks to determine the Italian league champions.
This new rule will only be used for teams deadlocked at the top of the table however. All other positions will continue to be determined by head-to-head record should two or more teams finish tied on points.
The Scudetto champions have only ever been determined by a playoff once before, back in 1964 when Bologna beat Inter Milan 2-0 in Rome. Last year there was a two point-margin between teams while in the 2019-20 campaign Juventus finished a point ahead of Inter Milan.
It seems a little short-sighted to not base the champions of a 38-game campaign on a season-long metric such as goal difference, or not even the head-to-head record between two teams, but on a whimsical one-off game (or even possibly penalty kicks) which could be be heavily influenced by factors such as fatigue and injury. Still, the league has always done a good job selling the drama and that is exactly what this will be should it come to pass.
Among other rules ratified by the clubs and announced by the FIGC is the confirmation of five substitutes to be allowed in league games.