Coalition amongst Ligue 1’s smaller clubs forming to abandon 2019/20 campaign, 22-team season in 2020/21

Le Parisien report that a growing coalition of some of Ligue 1’s smaller clubs and the bigger clubs in Ligue 2 is forming, with their ambition being to see the 2019/20 campaign entirely annulled, making way for a 22-team French 1st division season in 2020/21.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been occurring with intense consistency amongst French football’s power brokers.

Two nuclei have formed, the dividing lines being drawn in accordance with who is a member of which of the two professional club associations, “Première Ligue” and “UCPF”. The first group is made up of PSG, Lyon, Marseille, Rennes, St Étienne, AS Monaco, Lille and Nice. The second group includes the “smaller” Ligue 1 clubs like Brest, Dijon, Amiens and Strasbourg.

For Ligue 2 clubs, the amount of TV rights money set to be lost through an eventual annulment of this campaign is much less than what is at stake for the top teams in Ligue 1, owing to the staggered payment methods for which rights money is handed to French clubs. Essentially, the smaller sides in Ligue 1, like the teams in Ligue 2, have received the vast majority of the entire season’s worth of TV money they were due in 2019/20 (93% for Ligue 2 clubs). Marseille for example have received only around 50% of the money they are due, in contrast.

Although few have admitted publicly, a number of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 presidents share the position of Brest chief Denis Le Saint, who said 10 days ago that he felt it is “impossible to finish” this season.

An unnamed president added to Le Parisien: “Rather than being obsessed with finishing this season at all costs, it would be better to secure next season and discuss with Mediapro.”

Mediapro become the principal TV broadcaster of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 next season, taking over from Canal + and BeIN Sports, with whom Ligue 1 presidents are currently negotiating to receive the rest of their TV rights money for this season, despite it not yet being completed.

The UCPF group are envisaging a 22-team Ligue 1 next season, ensuring that nobody would be relegated from the French 1st division from the 2019/20 campaign and Lorient and RC Lens would be promoted. Same for Dunkerque and Pau, who would ascend to Ligue 2 from National in a 22-team French second division too.

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