French Prime Minister declared yesterday, “It won’t be possible to do sport in covered areas, nor practice team or contact sports. Events gathering more than 5,000 participants cannot be staged until September.”
With that statement went the French Football League’s (LFP) hopes of resuming its season on June 17.
And with so many issues left outstanding for next season involving Euro places, promotion and relegation and club finances in general, there are many big decisions pending and being eagerly awaited.
Guaranteed prize-mainly for reaching the Champions League Group stages is a pretty penny, 15, euros worth of pennies to be exact. And already clubs have been swift to promote selfish causes.
The presidents of Marseille (currently 2nd in Ligue Un) and Lyon (7th). Lyon who finished 3rd last season put forth claims that last season’s final placings should be used to determine European qualifiers for 2021. Marseille having finished out of the Champions League placing in 2019/20 in 5th, weren’t long in registering their discord at the Lyon president’s proposal.
But significantly, the Lyon president’s proposal is not one of three possible scenarios set out by an LFP working group, though. They are:
- base the final standings on a points-per-game average
- finalise the table on the last full round of games played - 27 in the case of Ligue 1
- take the standings as they were after 19 matches, the halfway point of the season
In each of the tree cases the top four remains the same. At least there is some firm degree of consistency. It would mean PSG and Marseille going directly into the Champions’ League group stages, with Rennes included at the third qualifying round stage. Lille in fourth would assume Liga Un’s sole Europa League qualifying place.
There are also two Europa League places up for grabs to the winners of the two domestic cup competitions, each of which are unlikely to conclude. PSG were scheduled to play Lyon in the Coupe de la Ligue Final on 4 April, and St-Etienne in the Coupe de France Final on 24 April.
If the assumption is that PSG are crowned champions, then do the other finalists in the cup competitions benefit by gaining the last two Europa League places, or will the FFF decide to nominate clubs finishing 5th and 6th in Ligue 1 for those spots, since the domestic finals will not be played?
Should it be the latter, there will be problems, and undoubtedly squabbling...
Lyon, Montpellier, Reims, Nantes and Nice stretching from 5th to 9th after 27 championship rounds would all have a claim.
When it comes to promotion and relegation, whichever of the above three scenarios is deployed, it suggests the trap-door for strugglers, Toulouse and Amiens. They would be replaced by Ligue 2 top dogs Lorient and Zakaria Diallo’s Lens, but it’s unlikely the third promotion/relegation issue would be attributed. It is scheduled to be a play-off between third bottom in Ligue 1 and third top, Ligue 2, but it’s no longer conceivable that this head to head will ever take place.
Getting back to the top, it’s not the way in which PSG would have liked to equal Marseille’s tally of 9 titles, but it will have to do.
Twelve points clear and with the championship a more than their reasonable destiny, the Parisians will likely have to look down on a record book that shows; Marseille 9, PSG 9*.
But what might be the bigger regret for PSG is being abruptly halted in their tracks in pursuit of another opportunity to equal a Marseille record, that of being the only French club to win the Champions League.
For once PSG successfully negotiated the round of 16 hurdle and appeared to be riding confidently on their best chance for success in securing Europe’s holy grail.
But corona has scuppered that party too. Mbappe and Neymar must wait, while PSG fans must hope they remain for another assault on ‘old big ears’ in 2021.