The Lega Calcio has today announced the 2009 Supercoppa Italiana final between Inter and Lazio will be played in Beijing and that the 2009-10 domestic league season will kick off earlier than in previous years.
The traditional curtain raiser to the Italian football season between the Serie A champions and the Coppa Italia winners will take place at the Bird's Nest Stadium on Saturday August 8, 2009 - kicking off at 2000 local time (-6hrs for Italy/CET and -7hrs for UK).
It would be exactly one year to the day that the Chinese capital presented the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games it hosted in the summer of 2008.
"The date and time have a significant meaning as recognition for the Lega Calcio and Italian football towards the Olympic movement, celebrating the first anniversary of the opening ceremony," read a statement released by the Lega Calcio.
The contest will be the fourth time the Supercoppa final is played on foreign soil after AC Milan prevailed in Washington (USA) in 1993 and Juventus lifted the trophy in Tripoli (Libya) in 2002 and in New York (USA) in 2003.
The Lega also confirmed that the new Serie A season will start a week earlier than usual on the weekend of August 22 and 23, 2009. [Schedule]
The early start to the campaign is in order to finish earlier - on May 16, 2010 - and give Marcello Lippi's Italy squad time to prepare for their FIFA World Cup defence in South Africa later that summer.
The winter break will also be shortened by a week as the teams will return to action on January 6. As a result, there will only be three mid-week rounds throughout the top flight season, rather than the current four.
Next season's Coppa Italia competition will kick off with the Lega Pro clubs in the First Round on August 2.
LAST UPDATED: Tuesday 14 July 2009
Source: Lega Calcio