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Carlo Tavecchio wants to shrink Serie A and reform Italian squad rules

Italy's new FIGC president is proposing massive changes to both the league and squad structures in Italy.

Paolo Bruno

Give Carlo Tavecchio credit for one thing: he may be a terrible person, but he doesn't screw around when it comes to getting to work.

The FIGC's new president is not long on the job, but he's already proposing sweeping changes to Italian football to try to fix a flagging system. The changes that Tavecchio wants to implement make a lot of sense from different standpoint, but one set of changes in particular won't sit well with a lot of fans.

The first, and probably simplest, change that Tavecchio wants to put in place has to do with squad structure. Currently, Italy doesn't actually have much in the way of rules when it comes to the way each club's squads are put together; there's some limitations on bringing in players from outside the European Union, but that's about it. Tavecchio wants to bring Italy's squad rules in line with the standard used in UEFA competitions: 25 registered players, of whom at least eight must be "home grown" and have been trained in Italian academies. Of those eight, four must have been trained by the club registering the player.

The rule makes sense, and helps Italian squads in two ways. First and foremost, it helps reduce squad sizes, and with that, reduces wage bills. With many Italian sides struggling financially, that can only be a good thing. Secondly, since that's the same rules used for squad construction in the Champions League and Europa League, it will help prepare Italian teams for those competitions, having their squads prepared ahead of time instead of scrambling to put together an unbalanced side just to meet the requirements.

It also theoretically forces teams to use more Italians instead of foreign-born players, but since EU laws don't allow restrictions of nationalities, we'll soon be seeing an influx of foreign nationals in to Italian academies to get as good of talent as possible in those home grown spots if this change is approved. While many will decry this as a further dilution of talent in Italy, it's actually a good thing for young Italian talents, as it will force them to be at their best and develop further thanks to the increased competition for places.

The other, and likely to be wildly unpopular, change will be a dramatic re-shaping of the league structure itself. Tavecchio is proposing shrinking Serie A to 18 teams, Serie B to either 18 or 20 teams, and dramatically reducing the size of Lega Pro by an as-of-yet undetermined amount. It'd be a huge overall shift from where the leagues currently stand, and while a lot of fans would be angered by such a change, it makes a lot of financial sense to do so.

It's no secret that Italy is in rough financial shape right now, and that the same turmoil is effecting the nation's football clubs as well. Several sides have gone bankrupt in recent seasons, recently including AC Siena, who were just in Serie A a few short years ago. Reducing the size of the professional league structure allows the FIGC to spread what resources it has a bit more effectively, even if it does means upsetting a number of fans who would see their clubs drop a division, or even out of fully professional play entirely, through little fault of their own.

Tavecchio is proposing making both of these changes slowly over the course of the next three years. The squad changes would be pretty straightforward to implement, but the changes to league structure will be much tougher, especially when it comes to determining how promotion and relegation will work in the meantime. Both changes will likely be good for Italian football in the long run on both domestic and international fronts, but they'll likely make for a rough ride in the short term.