French PM’s announcement ends Ligue 1 season

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The 2019-20 French football season is effectively over after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that no sporting events will take place until at least September.

Speaking while unveiling France’s plans to exit confinement, Philippe confirmed that all sport must remain prohibited in the coming months.

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“Big sporting events will not be able to take place before September,” Philippe said. “The 2019-20 season, notably for football, will not be able to resume.”

The decision ends Ligue 1 and Ligue 2’s hopes of returning to training in May for a mid-June restart and puts further pressure on UEFA regarding the Champions League, with Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinals and Lyon leading Juventus in their round-of-16 tie. UEFA had planned to play the Champions League to a finish in August but this is becoming increasingly doubtful.

The Professional Football League (LFP) and French Football Federation (FFF) will now have to decide how to deal with the question of promotion, relegation and European qualification concerning the top three tiers of French football, as well as the potential restart of football in September.

PSG, 12 points clear at the top of the table with a game in hand, also face an anxious wait to discover if they will be crowned champions.

Last week, RMC Sport reported that the LFP was considering three options: taking the table at the halfway point, after 27 rounds or as it stands now on points per game [effectively the table as it stands].

Toulouse president Olivier Sadran has welcomed the news with his side bottom of the league and 17 points adrift of safety with 10 matches left to play.

“For me, football wins by not continuing,” he told L’Equipe. “The politicians have made the right decision. The thing that drove everybody to get back underway was the economic argument.

“Despite what some say, the agreement with Canal+ and beIN Sports is of good quality. From my point of view, this has stabilised.”

The announcement also means that the women’s leagues have been cancelled with 13-time champions Lyon leading the top tier by three points.

Lyon will be crowned champions for the 14th consecutive time if the FFF decide that there should be winners for the 2019-20 campaign.

The decision comes after Montpellier‘s Junior Sambia became the first Ligue 1 player to test positive for coronavirus last week.

Sambia was placed into an artificial coma after initially testing negative but his agent Frederic Guerra has since said the player has started to breathe without aid.

La Liga president Javier Tebas criticised the decision not to play the remainder of the French seasons behind closed doors.

“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, being on a fishing boat on the high seas, etc,” he said.

“If important economic sectors cannot restart, in a safe and controlled manner, they could end up disappearing. That could happen to professional football. In other countries teams are already training, that’s the example to follow.

“In Spain, football is an important economic driver that we need to reactivate like many others. We continue to focus on this reactivation, in a responsible manner and adhering to health recommendations, as soon as possible.”

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