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Mais Non! French Ligue 2 expansion plan hits the buffers

France's second division of professional football will keep to its 20 team format for the 2020/21 season.
France's second division of professional football will keep to its 20 team format for the 2020/21 season. afp.com/Archives

French football supremos on Wednesday rejected proposals to increase the number of clubs in the second division from 20 to 22 for the 2020/21 campaign. 

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The change - put forward by the Ligue de Football Professionnel - would have allowed Orleans and Le Mans to avoid relegation as Pau and Dunkerque joined the Ligue 2 ranks from the third tier National 1.

But the Fédération de Football Française (FFF), the ultimate authority in the land, said there would be no leniency following the LFP's decision to stop professional sports in a country where nearly 29,000 people have died during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Two clubs will be relegated as normal at the end of the 2019/20 season,” said an FFF statement on Wednesday. “Ligue 2 will be composed of 20 clubs for the 2020-2021 season.”

When the LFP declared the 2019/20 campaign over on 30 April, Paris Saint-Germain were 12 points ahead of second-placed Marseille in Ligue 1 with 11 games remaining. Rennes were third.

PSG champions

PSG were awarded the championship - their sixth in seven years - and direct passage to the group stages of next season’s Uefa Champions League. 

Marseille, as runners-up joined them while Rennes progressed to the qualifying rounds for the group stages.

At the other end of the table, Amiens and Toulouse dropped into Ligue 2. Those two clubs have launched legal action in an attempt to overturn their relegations.

"Amiens are still fighting against this decision which we find unfair, incoherent and unfounded," said Amiens president Bernard Joannin. "The LFP board of directors has pronounced an arbitrary relegation of our club."

Lyon carry on fight

Lyon, who were seventh and within range of finishing in one of the places that lead to the Europa League, have also summoned their lawyers to fight against the LFP’s ruling.

However Monaco and Montpellier, who were both level on points with Lyon, have refused to go to the courts.

Lyon president, Jean-Michel Aulas, stepped up his campaign for redress this week.

He wrote to prime minister Edouard Philippe and sports minister Roxana Maracineanu asking them to reconsider the decision to stop professional sports when new measures are announced to bring France out of its coronavirus lockdown.

Aulas said the women’s football championships should also be restarted even though Lyon were awarded the title.

"All the competitions should go right until the end,” he told France Info radio station.

“Even if that means risking the title of the Lyon women’s team. We haven’t celebrated the championship because we were only three points ahead of PSG who could well have gone past us.”

Although they are not scheduled to feature domestically, Lyon’s men are due to continue in this season’s Champions League.

When European club football's most prestigious tournament resumes, Lyon will take a 1-0 advantage into the second leg of their last-16 tie against Juventus.

   

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