French Prime Minister cancels Ligue 1 with sporting ban until September

The French Prime Minister has announced that no sporting events in the country will take place before September, even behind closed doors, thus effectively ending both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 campaigns.

Edouard Philippe’s announcement has detailed that no sporting event with more than 5000 people can take place until September which has also hindered Tour de France’s rescheduled date of August 29.

Phillippe stated: “The big sporting affairs cannot occur before September. The 2019-2020 season of professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume. It will be possible, on sunny days, to practice an individual sporting activity outdoors, obviously respecting the rules of social distancing.

“It will not be possible, neither to practice sport in covered places, nor team or contact sports.”

The announcement follows UEFA’s statement to every European top division giving the associations until May 5 to provide its plans as to how their season’s will be concluded. With France’s top two divisions now being unable to be concluded, the French Football Federation (FFF) has called for the French Professional Football League (LFP) to swiftly reveal how they plan to resolve the campaign.

The FFF’s executive committee stated: ”The Comex of the FFF invites the LFP to inform it as soon as possible of the sporting consequences it intends to draw from the situation to close the L1 and L2 championships and set up a project for the resumption of activities for the 2020-21 season in light of the details the government will bring in the coming days.”

France’s professional leagues could follow a variety of routes taken by other European leagues which have prematurely concluded its campaigns. In Belgium the Pro League awarded Club Brugge as the victor by simply ending the season with its current standings. 

Meanwhile in the Eredivisie with Ajax and AZ in a title race, the league opted to ‘null and void’ the current campaign meaning that no teams would also be relegated. 

Currently PSG hold a 12 point lead at the top of the table however only three points separate 18th placed Nimes and 16th’s Dijon meaning that the league still had important matches left to play.

In Ligue 2, the battle for promotion to France’s top division was also heating up with the top five teams separated by only four points. 

The LFP will also have to decide on May 25 which clubs will feature in UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League tournaments next season.

PSG’s chairman Nasser Al-Khelaif has also confirmed that despite being unable to possibly play its games in France, the club is willing to still compete in the Champions League, albeit in a different country. 

“We respect of course the French Government decision – we plan on competing in the Champions League with UEFA agreement – wherever and whenever it is held,” the chairman said.

“If it is not possible to play in France we will play our matches abroad subject to the best conditions for our players and the safety of all our staff.”

It is expected that LFP will meet next month in order to discuss how the league’s standing will be decided and its implications with regards to promotion, relegation and European qualification.