Ligue 1 season ended by French governmentPublished on: April 29, 2020Author: Jamie Clark
Ligue 1 has become the second major division of top flight football in Europe to end its season. This follows a French government ban on sport until September.
The decision has wider implications than just football with the Tour de France – professional cycling’s main annual event – set to be delayed further.
However, the ban does not extend to horse racing which comes under the French Ministry of Agriculture’s remit.
French government intervention means there is no chance of the remaining 10 Ligue 1 fixtures that each of the 20 teams in the division being played behind closed doors.
There were previous hopes that the 2019-20 season could resume on 17 June and finish by 25 July after the Ligue de Football Professional (LFP) voted to complete the campaign on 10 April.
League leaders PSG have a game in hand (against Strasbourg), but are 12 points clear at the top of the table.
The LFP must now decide whether to declare the season null and void, or allocate promotion, relegation, European places and the Ligue 1 title based on current standings.
Only two teams from the French top flight are certain to drop down into Ligue 2 – which has also ended – in normal circumstances.
The side that finishes third bottom enters a promotion/relegation play-off with a second tier club.
If using the current standings, then Toulouse who have been in Ligue 1 since 2003 would go down alongside Amiens. Nimes are set to stay up.
Champions League places would go to PSG, Marseille and Rennes with Lille and Reims entering the Europa League. All European places will have to be ratified by UEFA, however.
PSG respect French government decision over Ligue 1
“We respect the French government decision,” said PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi. “We plan on competing in the Champions League with UEFA agreement, wherever and whenever it is held”
“If it is not possible to play in France, [then] we will play our matches abroad – subject to the best conditions for our players and the safety of all of our staff.”
This follows the Dutch government ending the Eredivisie season and the KNVB choosing not to award the title, promotion or relegation.
It is also a different approach to that taken by Germany, which borders both France and the Netherlands.
Bundesliga players are back in training with the DFB presently holding every intention of resuming the season.
Across the Channel in England, meanwhile, the Premier League has begun its Project Restart plans with four clubs opening facilities for individual training.
The French government decision comes at a time when the medical chair of world football governing body FIFA warned against resuming the campaign.
Michel d’Hooghe spoke of risks, and the Belgian suggested preparing for the 2020-21 season after the summer instead.
Ligue 1 has been dominated by PSG in recent years in a similar vein to Juventus in the Italian Serie A.
Ending the season in France has attracted criticism from Spanish La Liga president Javier Tebas. “In Spain, football is an important economic driver,” he said.
“I do not understand why there would be more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line [or] being on a fishing boat.”