Serie A also called Serie A TIM due to sponsorship by Telecom Italia, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and has been operating for over eighty years since the 1929-30 season. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, but a new league, the Lega Serie A, was created for the 2010–11 season. Serie A is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world. Serie A was considered the best league in the world in the 90s, up till mid 2000. Serie A has produced the highest number of European Cup finalists: Italian clubs have reached the final of the competition on a record twenty-six different occasions, winning the title twelve times. Serie A is ranked 4th among European leagues according to UEFA’s league coefficient behind the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, and German Bundesliga, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League. It also ranked 5th in world according to the first trends of the 2011 IFFHS rating.In its current format, the Italian Football Championship was revised from having regional and interregional rounds, to a single-tier league from the 1929–30 season onwards. The championship titles won before 1929 are officially recognised by FIGC as a championship in the same way the ones since then are. The 1945–46 season, when the league was played over two geographical groups due to the ravages of WWII, is not statistically considered, even if its title is fully official.
The league hosts three of the world’s most famous clubs as Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, all founding members of the G-14, a group which represented the largest and most prestigious European football clubs; Serie A was the only league to produce three founding members. More players have won the coveted Ballon d’Or award while playing at a Serie A club than any other league in the world.Milan is one of two clubs with the most official international titles in the world. Juventus, Italy’s most successful club of the 20th century and the most successful Italian team, is tied for fourth in Europe and eighth in the world in the same ranking. The club is the only one in the world to have won all possible official continental competitions and the world title.Internazionale, following their achievements in the 2009–10 season, became the first Italian team to have achieved The Treble.
For most of Serie A’s history there were 16 or 18 clubs competing at the top level; however, since 2004–05 there have been 20 clubs altogether. A season (1947–1948) was played with 21 teams for political reasons. Below is a complete record of how many teams played in each season throughout the league’s history;
- 18 clubs = 1929–1934
- 16 clubs = 1934–1942
- 18 clubs = 1942–1946
- 20 clubs = 1946–1947
- 21 clubs = 1947–1948
- 20 clubs = 1948–1952
- 18 clubs = 1952–1967
- 16 clubs = 1967–1988
- 18 clubs = 1988–2004
- 20 clubs = 2004–present
Since Italy is currently rated as the fourth European countries in terms of club football ratings, the top three teams in the Serie A qualified for the UEFA Champions League (from the 2012-13 season). The top two teams qualify directly to the group phase, while the third-placed team enters the competition at the playoff qualifying round and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. Teams finishing 4th and 5th qualify for the UEFA Europa League Tournament. A third UEFA Europa League spot is reserved for the winner of the Coppa Italia. If the Coppa Italia champion has already qualified for the major European tournament by placing in the top three of Serie A, the third UEFA Europa League spot goes to the losing finalist. If both Coppa Italia finalists finish among the top five teams in Serie A, the 6th classified team in Serie A is awarded the UEFA Europa League spot. The three lowest placed teams are relegated to Serie B.
Before the 2005–06 season if two or more teams were tied in points for first place, for only one spot in a European tournament, or in the relegation zone, teams would play tie-breaking games after the season was over to determine which team would be champion, or be awarded a European tournament spot, or be saved or relegated. Since 2005–06, if two or more teams end the season with the same number of points, the ordering is determined by their head-to-head records. In case two or more teams have same total points and same head-to-head records, goal difference becomes the secondary deciding factor.