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Amiens launches legal action over Ligue 1 relegation

Saman Ghoddos of Amiens celebrates scoring with team-mates (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

French Ligue 1 football club Amiens SC is set to take legal action over its relegation from the top-tier competition.

The French Football League (LFP) ended the 2019-20 domestic season after Prime Minister Édouard Philippe ruled that no professional sport could be played in the country until September.

The LFP used an average points-per-game system to determine league positions, meaning that Paris Saint-Germain was crowned Ligue 1 champion and Amiens and Toulouse were relegated. Lorient and RC Lens will be promoted from the second-tier Ligue 2.

Amiens was four points from safety when the league was suspended with 10 matches of the season left. Amiens president Bernard Joannin has now spoken out about what he deems an unfair decision to relegate the club.

Joannin made it clear that he has not questioned the decision to end the season but took issue with his club’s relegation with a quarter of the campaign left to go.

Joannin said: “A championship is 38 games. Twenty-eight days does not reveal the true performance of the teams. Take our friends in Lille as an example. Two years ago on the 28th match day, they were 19th and in the last 10 games they managed to escape, finishing 17th.”

Joannin added: “We are fighting this fight against injustice because we find this decision contrary to fairness in sport. It is a sanction decision on the part of the league and we ask for the cancellation of this relegation.

“I am convinced that this decision was taken in haste, without any real consultation. Look at the other sports, rugby, handball, basketball, they did not relegate. Professional football is the only one to have made this decision. There were fairer alternatives, viable options, sportingly and legally.”

Joannin said the club will be forced to go to court, stating that “the legal arguments are on our side and I am convinced that justice will prove us right”.

Christophe Bertrand, the club’s lawyer, has announced the filing of two legal applications to the Paris administrative court. Bertrand likened the decision to relegate Amiens with 10 matches left to stopping a match after 66 minutes.

Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais, which finished seventh after the season was ended and therefore missed out on a place in the Europa League, is hoping for a decision on its own legal action before the end of the month.

Lyon filed an appeal with the Paris Administrative Court on May 7 over the decision to suspend the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons. The appeal calls for the LFP to reconsider the terms of the suspension and consider a resumption of the season in August or annul the campaign completely.

On the wider implications of the suspension, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas said: “This early stoppage in France risks severely penalising transfers from French clubs because the situation is worse than in other countries.

“Our players are not playing and clubs like OL and PSG will have to play European matches without being prepared. It will be harder than if we hadn’t stopped. There are also fears of consequences regarding player sales as of June 30.”