LFP forced to reassess Ligue 1 plans after court ruling

Sehrou Guirassy of Amiens scores the first goal during the Ligue 1 match against Marseille (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

An administrative court in France has suspended the relegation of Amiens and Toulouse from Ligue 1, the top tier of domestic football, in a move that will force the French Football League (LFP) to reassess its plans for the 2020-21 season.

The LFP decided to end the 2019-20 Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons in April due to Covid-19. As a result, Amiens and Toulouse, the bottom two teams in Ligue 1 at the time, were relegated to the second tier.

Amiens, which was four points from safety when the league was suspended, subsequently launched legal action over the LFP’s decision. Olympique Lyonnais, which finished seventh and therefore missed out on a place in the Uefa Europa League, also launched legal action of its own.

Although France’s Conseil d’État rejected Lyon’s appeal against the decision to terminate the season, it has suspended the relegations of Amiens and Toulouse. The Conseil has upheld the decision to end the season but the suspension of the two clubs opens up the possibility of Ligue 1 being a 22-team league next season, with Lorient and Lens having been promoted from Ligue 2.

In a statement, the Conseil said: “The president considers that the League’s administrative board could not legally rely, in deciding to relegate the bottom two of the Ligue 1 ranking, on the fact that the current agreement concluded with the French Football Federation (FFF) provides for a limit of 20 clubs, while this agreement ends on June 30 and a new agreement will have to be signed.”

As a result, the judge has ordered the LFP, in conjunction with the FFF, to re-examine the format of Ligue 1 for the 2020-21 season.

The final Ligue 1 standings were determined on a points-per-game basis, with Paris Saint-Germain declared champions for the seventh time in eight years. The points-per-game model did not result in any changes to the table at the point of suspension.

The LFP has been dealing with a number of issues surrounding media rights in the wake of its decision to terminate the 2020-21 season due to Covid-19.

In May, the LFP managed to reach an agreement with beIN Media Group concerning how much the pay-television broadcaster owed in Ligue 1 international media rights. This is after 19 out of 20 Ligue 1 clubs agreed to split 2020-24 media rights equally in the top tier.