French Prime Minister announces Ligue 1, 2 seasons are over

Date published: Tuesday 28th April 2020 3:46

The Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons are to be cancelled after French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced no sporting events, even those behind closed doors, could take place before September.

Officials had been hoping teams could resume training within a fortnight after plans emerged earlier this month for the league to resume on June 17 and conclude on July 25.

But the French top flight will now follow the Dutch Eredivisie as a second major European league season is abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Phillipe said: “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.”

Most teams in Ligue 1 have 10 games left to play this season, while Paris Saint-Germain and Strasbourg have 11.

According to reports, the Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP) will meet next month to make final decisions over how to finalise the standings given not all teams have played the same number of games.

PSG lead the standings by 11 points from Marseille, with one point separating Rennes in third, which comes with a Champions League qualifying berth, from Lille in fourth place and a Europa League spot.

Amiens and Toulouse are in the bottom two, while Nimes sit 18th, a position which would ordinarily put them in a relegation play-off against a club from Ligue 2.

The picture at the top of Ligue 2 is much tighter, with only four points separating Lorient in first place from Clermont in fifth, with Lens, Ajaccio and Troyes also in the mix for either automatic promotion or a play-off place.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says talks are ongoing to get the Premier League, meanwhile, “up and running as soon as possible” as top-flight players begin to return to training grounds.

With the country still in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dowden’s department is leading discussions on how professional sport can restart should restrictions be eased.

Weekly meetings will now be taking place between medical officials from the major sports governing bodies and representatives of Public Health England. It is understood the Premier League’s medical adviser Mark Gillett and the Football Association’s head of medicine Charlotte Cowie will be among those involved in the Government discussions.

Dowden, speaking at a parliamentary questions session for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “I personally have been in talks with the Premier League with a view to getting football up and running as soon as possible in order to support the whole football community.

“But, of course, any such moves would have to be consistent with public health guidance.”

Any resumption of sport could only happen if the Government’s five tests are fulfilled, covering such areas as NHS capacity, the availability of testing and PPE and a fall in the death and infection rates. It is accepted that for the foreseeable future this would be about sporting events happening behind closed doors.

 

 

The Premier League’s resumption is being kept under constant review, with the clubs set to gather for a shareholders’ meeting on Friday.

June 8 has been reported as a potential start date while the PA news agency understands that June 6 could also be an option, but Watford chairman Scott Duxbury says the NHS must come first.

“I feel uncomfortable at this stage talking about football as a narrative with there being stresses on the NHS and that has to be a priority,” he told several newspapers.

“Do I want to resume football? Absolutely. As long as it is safe, and the Government says it is absolutely fine.

“I’ll be led by the Government. If they say it’s safe and we’re not going to put pressure on the NHS, then fantastic.

“But I think we have to be led to make sure that it is safe and that we are not rushing.”

 

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