Serie A relegation playoff: Reggio Emilia confirmed after backlash to initial choice of Udine

Having initially reached the decision to play the Serie A relegation playoff between Spezia and Verona in Udine, common sense has prevailed and Lega Serie A have now confirmed that Reggio Emilia's Mapei Stadium will instead host the one-off fixture.

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Lega Serie A took the long way around but have come to the decision that the relegation playoff between Spezia and Hellas Verona on Sunday, June 11, will be contested in Reggio Emilia at the Mapei Stadium. They had originally opted for the Dacia Arena in Udine after the prefect of Reggio Emilia had shown reluctance to have the game played in the Emilian city.

After a day of drama on the last day of the 2022/23 campaign, the Gialloblu were comprehensively beaten by AC Milan, but an injury-time penalty from Paulo Dybala also condemned the Aquilotti to defeat against AS Roma, which left both sides tied on 31 points and requiring a playoff after a rule change made this 2022/23 season.

Spezia’s Dimitrios Nikolaou celebrates scoring. (Photo: Getty)

From Reggio Emilia to Udine and back again

As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, the original idea was to have the match played at an almost equal distance between both clubs and the Mapei Stadium was the logical choice. But logic was swiftly forgotten.

Long negotiations between Lega Serie A and the local authorities in Reggio Emilia unfolded and an agreement could not be found, as the Prefect of the Emilian city had public order concerns seemingly due to back-to-back Zucchero concerts in the city on Friday and Saturday.

Those concerns were not helped by the poor relationship that local Reggiana fans have with both Spezia and Hellas Verona supporters and fears of keeping people from clashing. As such, Udine’s Dacia Arena, Udinese’s home stadium, was chosen.

Hellas Verona’s Adrien Tameze. (Photo: Getty)

Spezia, understandably, disputed the decision that meant they would have needed to travel considerably further than Verona to play the game with Emilia-Romagna falling between them and boasting a number of stadiums.

The Prefect of Reggio Emilia’s reluctance to host the game there looked to be decisive, but Spezia’s protests gained ground and even had the support of city mayor Pierluigi Peracchini who took to Facebook to lamented the decision.

Eventually, common sense prevailed and further negotiations proved successful, meaning the relegation playoff between Spezia and Verona will now be played at the Mapei Stadium, not the Dacia Arena.

When will the Serie A relegation playoff be held?

The Serie A relegation playoff fixture of Spezia vs Verona kicks off at 20:45 CEST on Sunday, June 11. That makes it a 19:45 BST kick-off. This, unfortunately, means that the game will overlap with the second leg of the Serie B promotion playoff final of Bari vs Cagliari. The Serie B playoff starts 15 minutes earlier.

In the United States, kick-off of Spezia vs Verona is 14:45 EDT or 11:45 PDT.

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