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French football season ends due to Covid-19

(Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)

The current French Ligue 1 season has been cancelled following a statement from the French prime minister that no sporting events will take place in the country until September.

Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told the French parliament that the 2019-20 season of professional sports, including football, will not be able to resume.

He said: “To give event organisers visibility, I want to make it clear that major sporting and cultural events, in particular festivals, major trade fairs, all events that bring together more than 5,000 participants and are therefore the subject of a declaration at the police headquarters and must be organised well in advance, cannot be held before September.”

The move scuppers the plan of France’s Professional Football League (LFP) to resume the Ligue 1 season on June 17 and finish it on August 2.

The governing bodies of French football will now meet to discuss the final league standings, with it yet to be determined who will be champions, who will be relegated and who will win promotion from Ligue 2.

Based on the current standings, PSG would be Ligue 1 champions for the third year in a row. The club is 12-points ahead of Marseille at the head of the table.

The LFP said that its management board will meet tomorrow (Thursday) to discuss the sporting and economic consequences of the measures announced by Philippe.

Clubs from Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 now face a marked shortfall in media-rights revenues for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

Canal Plus and beIN Sports, the pay-television broadcasters, last week agreed to pay reduced sums for the matches already played but were awaiting clarity over the structure and timing of the rest of the season before making any further payments.

The two broadcasters had warned the LFP in March that they would not be making their latest rights fee instalments due on April 5. These amounted to €110m ($119.5m) and €42m, respectively.

Canal Plus is to pay around €37m as part of its settlement, according to L’Equipe. The Qatar-backed beIN was faced with a €15m rights fee payment for matches already played and is thought to have agreed to pay a reduced sum of €10.6m.

The LFP’s deals with Canal Plus and beIN Sports for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are worth a combined €748.5m on average per season from 2016-17 to 2019-20. The Ligue 1 rights represent €726.5m, or 97 per cent, of that sum, with the broadcasters’ Ligue 2 rights deals worth a total of €22m per season.

The international rights to Ligue 1 are also held by beIN in a in six-year deal from 2018-19 to 2023-24 worth an average of €80m per season. It is reported that a €35m sum for the international rights remains to be paid for the 2019-20 season.

All European football leagues, meanwhile, have been given a May 25 deadline to inform governing body Uefa of their plans to restart their domestic competitions.