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 1929. It had been organized by Lega Calcio until 2010, but a new league, the Lega Serie A, has been created for the 2010–11 season. 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, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League. It also ranked 4th in world according to the first trends of the 2010 IFFHS rating.
In its current format, the Italian Football Championship was revised from having regional and interregional rounds, to just one solid league from the 1929–30 season onwards; the Serie A system carries on today. 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 WWII destructions, 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 representing 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 seventh in the world in the same ranking. The club is the only one in the world to have won all possible confederation competitions and the club 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;
1934–1943, 1967–1988 = 16
1929–1934, 1952–1967, 1988–2004 = 18
1946–1947, 1948–1952, 2004–present = 20
1947–1948 = 21
During the course of a season, from August to May, each club plays each of the other teams twice; once at home and once away, totaling 38 games for each team by the end of the season. Therefore, in Italian football a true round-robin format is used. In the first half of the season, called the andata, each team plays once against each league opponent, for a total of 19 games. In the second half of the season, called the ritorno, the teams play in exactly the same order that they did in the first half of the season, the only difference being that home and away situations are switched. Since the 1994-1995 season, teams were awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss.
Since Italy is currently rated as one of the top three European countries in terms of club football ratings, the top four teams in the Serie A qualified for the UEFA Champions League. The top three teams qualify directly to the group phase, while the fourth-placed team enters the competition at the third qualifying round and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group phase. Teams finishing 5th and 6th 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 four of Serie A, the third UEFA Europa League spot goes to the losing finalist. If both Coppa Italia finalists finish among the top six teams in Serie A, the 7th 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.
Serie A, as it is structured today, began in 1929. From 1898 to 1922 the competition was organised into regional groups. Because of ever growing teams attending regional championships, FIGC split the CCI (Italian Football Confederation) in 1921. When CCI teams rejoined the FIGC created two interregional divisions renaming Categories into Divisions and splitting FIGC sections into two North-South leagues. In 1926 due to internal crises FIGC changed internal settings adding southern teams to the national divisions which lead to 1929-30 final settlement. No title was awarded in 1927 after Torino were stripped of the championship by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). Torino were declared champions in the 1948-49 season following a plane crash near the end of the season in which the entire team was killed.
The Serie A Championship title is often referred to as the scudetto (small shield) because since the 1924-25 season the winning team will bear a small coat of arms with the Italian tricolour on their strip in the following season. The most successful club is Juventus with 27 championships, followed by Internazionale (18), Milan (18), and Genoa (9). From 2004–05 onwards an actual trophy was awarded to club on the pitch after the last turn of the championship. The trophy, called Coppa Campioni d'Italia, is official since the 1960–61 season, but between 1961 and 2004 it was consigned to the winning clubs at the head office of the Lega Nazionale Professionisti.
On 30 April 2009, Serie A announced a split from Serie B. Nineteen of the twenty clubs voted in favour of the move in an argument over television rights. Relegation-threatened Lecce voted against. Maurizio Beretta, the former head of Italy's employers' association, will be the president of the new league