ROME, July 18 (Reuters) - The four top Italian soccer clubs found guilty in the Serie A match-fixing scandal will begin their appeals on July 22, the president of the appeals court has said.
'The appeals process, following the sentences of the sports tribunal, will start on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT),' Piero Sandulli told Italian state broadcaster RAI on Tuesday.
Last Friday a sports tribunal ordered Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio to start next season in Italy's second-tier Serie B with points deducted after finding them guilty of conspiring with referees and linesmen to rig matches in the 2004/05 season.
The fourth side, AC Milan, escaped relegation, but were thrown out of European competition and ordered to start their next campaign minus 15 points. All four have announced their intention to appeal.
Sandulli defended the work of the sports tribunal, which prohibited witnesses and video evidence, leading to accusations that it failed to give the accused the means to defend themselves.
'I don't agree with those who argue that during the sports tribunal there were limitations in the defence rights.
'We are in a judicial situation that the clubs accepted and agreed to in the moment they signed up (to be part of the Italian Football Federation).'
The sports tribunal opened on June 29 and delivered its verdicts on July 14.
The appeals process is expected to move much faster but is unlikely to finish by July 25, the deadline set by UEFA for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to submit the list of teams to compete in next season's European club competitions.
If the process remains incomplete on July 25, the FIGC commissioner Guido Rossi has said that Italy's list to UEFA would reflect the verdicts of the sports tribunal.
In that case, Juventus, Milan and Fiorentina would lose their places in the Champions League making way for AS Roma, Chievo Verona and Palermo.