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 By Ben Gladwell

Serie A to play on Boxing Day; transfer deadline to close before season starts

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti breaks down Juventus' win and Napoli's loss at the weekend and what it means for the Serie A title race.

Serie A games are to be played on Boxing Day for the first time next season after the schedule for 2018-19, which includes changes to when the transfer windows will close, was released.

Serie B experimented with a round of fixtures on Dec. 26 several seasons ago and, after years of discussions, Serie A is now to follow suit in a bid to boost attendances.

"We are convinced that this solution will produce great results," said Giovanni Malago, the extraordinary commissioner of the Lega Serie A, who announced the calendar for next season in Milan.

According to the new schedule, there will be a round of fixtures on Dec. 22, on Boxing Day and again on Dec. 29 before the round of 16 of the Coppa Italia will get the action started again in 2019 on Jan. 13, a week before Serie A resumes.

Due to the relatively early start to the season, and with additional fixtures packed in around Christmas, there will only be two midweek rounds of matches next season: on Sept. 26 and April 3.

The announced changes will also affect the summer and winter transfer windows, which will now be aligned to conclude before the start of the season and before the restart following the winter break.

The English Football League and Premier League have already agreed to bring forward the closure of the transfer market in England so it no longer protracts into the season, with many managers complaining that transfer speculation can be a major distraction for their players in the final weeks of August and January.

"In terms of the transfer market, we've made important alterations," Malago said. "The summer window will close on Aug. 18, 24 hours prior to the start of the Serie A season. And the same goes for the January window -- it's expected that will close on Jan. 19."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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