French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Tuesday announced that “no sporting events will be allowed to take place until September” amid the ongoing fight against coronavirus pandemic.
This means that Ligue 1 has followed the Dutch Eredivisie to become the second football top flight league in Europe to be canceled. Meanwhile, the second-tier Ligue 2 will also undergo the same fate.
“The big sporting affairs cannot occur before September,” Philippe said in a national assembly on Tuesday, “The 2019-2020 season of professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume.”
The French Professional Football League (LFP), the governing body of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, last Friday announced plans to restart the domestic campaign in mid-June and said players would return to training after the national lockdown is lifted on May 11.
But Philippe’s declaration has ruined LFP’s hopes of the resumption, with Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 now indefinitely canceled.
The LFP will meet on Thursday to discuss what to do next as some major issues remain to be decided, like who will be crowned champions, who will qualify for next season’s European competitions, who will be relegated and who will win promotion.
Last week, UEFA has indicated in a statement that for those domestic leagues failing to achieve a “natural conclusion”, selecting clubs for next season’s continental club competitions should base on “sporting merit”.
Powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain are 12 points clear of Marseille at the top of the Ligue 1 standings as the top two sides will directly secure their places in next season’s Champions League group stage.
Toulouse are at the bottom of the table with only 13 points, 17 from the safety zone and 10 behind second-last Amiens. Nimes rank 18th and in the relegation play-off spot, three points behind 17-placed Saint Etienne.
Meanwhile, Lorient and Lens occupy the top two places in Ligue 2 and theoretically have the chance to be automatically promoted.
Noel Le Graet, the president of the French Football Federation (FFF), told French media L’equipe that the season is “over” for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.
The 78-year-old FFF boss hoped that since the current season was abandoned, the 2020-2021 season could be started behind closed doors in August.
Defending champion PSG’s president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said he respected the decision of the government and claimed his side will continue to play the Champions League “at the places and dates where it will be organized.”
“With the agreement of UEFA, we intend to participate in the final phase of the Champions League,” Nasser said, “If it is not possible to play in France, we will play our matches abroad.”
PSG knocked out Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16 to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League before the shutdown of the competition.
However, Lyon’s president Jean-Michel Aulas has some different opinions towards the Prime Minister’s announcement. He told AFP that he “was not sure” the season will be ended and proposed that Ligue 1 could be ended with an alternative format like a series of play-offs for the top and bottom rankings.
France is currently under a nationwide lockdown until May 11 and over 23,000 people have been killed in the country by the deadly virus while more than 160,000 people have been affected. Enditem