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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Soccer: French League facing tough choices after season abandoned

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PARIS (Reuters) – The French football league is facing a number of issues such as who gets to be named champions, who gets promoted and relegated after the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons were ended amid the COVID-19 crisis with 10 games left.

The LFP board will meet on Thursday to “study the sporting and economic consequences of the measures announced by the prime minister”, it said on Tuesday night after Edouard Philippe said the 2019-20 professional season could ‘not return’.

“It is a wise decision,” said Nice president Jean-Pierre Riviere, while Sylvain Kastendeuch, the president of the professional footballers’ union, said that “the government understood that the economical emergency could not take precedence over public health”.

The LFP was expecting a re-start on June 17 but the government’s red light means it has to decide on European spots, relegation for next season and this the champion’s title.

“UEFA asked us if we could play behind closed doors in August,” French federation president Noel Le Graet was quoted as telling sports daily L’Equipe on Wednesday.

That might happen, but only as part of the 2020-21 season, which was due to start on August 7.

Le Graet said that the 2020 French Cup final between Paris St Germain and St Etienne could be played in early August.

He added that the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 standings should stand as they are, although two clubs, 11th-placed Strasbourg and leaders Paris St Germain, have a game in hand.

Qatari-owned PSG are also still in the Champions League and they would not be able to play their quarter-final home leg at the Parc des Princes, but club president Nasser al Khelaifi said they would agree to play abroad.

“We intend to take part in the final phase of the Champions League. If it is not possible to play in France we will play our matches abroad while making sure our players and staff can stay healthy,” Al Khelaifi said.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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