With the final end of the Ligue 1 season, how the LFP solved the classification puzzle

The Auteuil tribune in the Parc des Princes, in Paris, on April 28.
The Auteuil tribune in the Parc des Princes, in Paris, on April 28. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

“The 2019-2020 professional sports season, especially the soccer season, cannot resume. " Tuesday, April 28, during the presentation of the deconfinement plan of the executive to the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, cut short the assumption of an imminent resumption of the French championships, interrupted since mid- March.

And if the sports ministry had left open the possibility of resuming competition in August if by then "The pandemic is no longer progressing", the ax finally fell, Thursday, April 30: the Professional Football League (LFP) has acted, in board of directors, the final stop of the current exercise of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

The body has also decided to crown Paris-Saint-Germain. According to "Final ranking" established on the basis of a quotient "Number of points per game played", revealed by the LFP in a press conference, Marseille and Rennes are qualified for the Champions League. Toulouse and Amiens are, for their part, relegated. Lorient and Lens, respectively first and second in Ligue 2, make their entry into the elite division.

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"There is no ambiguity in this statement. We had to make a firm and final decision ”, confirmed Nathalie Boy de la Tour, the president of the L1 organizing body, before Didier Quillot, the executive director general, unveiled the classification. “These decisions are solid and solid. The board of directors is authoritative ", hammered Mme Boy de la Tour, while some French football players spoke of the need for a vote during an LFP general assembly scheduled for May 20.

Three scenarios and tensions

The final cessation of the current championship exercise at the behest of the French government has plunged the leaders of Ligue 1 clubs into an unprecedented situation: how to determine the final ranking? An element with multiple implications for the next season, including the allocation of European places (Champions League or Europa League) and relegation to the lower division. Especially since the tickets awarded by the national cups, if the two finals (Lyon – Paris-Saint-Germain in the Coupe de la ligue and Paris-Saint-Germain – Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France) could not compete, would depend then of said classification.

The decision on Thursday therefore announces perhaps a wave of litigation before the sports and administrative justice. Because the texts do not provide for anything in the event of a permanent cessation of the championship during the season. Some then spoke of a white season, with neither winner nor relegated, while others cited the "Regulations for professional French championships", which evokes a fixed classification "After the last day of the championship" – the latter was suspended during the 28e day out of 38 in an exercise "Normal". But the different actors were already on this point.

The FFF had already excluded the hypothesis of "White season", but also the possibility of establishing the classification on the basis of the end of the first leg, that is after nineteen days of the championship. Several potential rankings were therefore emerging (based on the assumption that the European places in the national cups are switched back to the results of Ligue 1):

  • Scenario 1: Ligue 1 stops on the last day started (the 28e)

In this case, the Strasbourg – Paris-Saint-Germain match could not take place, and the clubs should agree on a calculation rule to neutralize the effect of the postponed match.

If this option had been chosen:

Champion: Paris-Saint-Germain (68 points).

Qualified in the Champions League: Olympique de Marseille (56 points) and Rennes (50 points).

Qualified in the Europa League: Lille (49 points), Reims and Nice (both with 41 points).

Relegated to Ligue 2: Amiens (23 points) and Toulouse (13 points).

  • Scenario 2: Ligue 1 ends on the last day played by all clubs (27e)

According to The team and The Parisian, it is this hypothesis which was favored by the boss of the FFF.

Champion: Paris-Saint-Germain (68 points).

Qualified in the Champions League: Olympique de Marseille (55 points) and Rennes (47 points).

Qualified in the Europa League: the situation is complicated for this competition, because if Lille is sure to play it, with 46 points, Lyon, Montpellier and Monaco (all three at 40 points) must be decided. Unlike goals, Lyon and Montpellier have the advantage (+ 16 and + 6 respectively), ahead of Monaco (+ 1).

Relegated to Ligue 2: Amiens (22 points) and Toulouse (13 points).

  • Scenario 3: a ratio "points obtained / matches played"

In the amateur championships, the FFF introduced a "Quotient number of points obtained / number of matches played".

Champion: Paris-Saint-Germain (with a ratio of 2.52 points / match).

Qualified in the Champions League: Olympique de Marseille (2 points / match) and Rennes (1.75 points / match).

Qualified in the Europa League: Lille (1.75 points / match), Reims and Nice (1.46 points / match).

Relegated to Ligue 2: Amiens (0.82 point / match) and Toulouse (0.46 point / match).

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This solution, ultimately adopted, was closer to the recommendations of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which gives itself the right to refuse the admission of a club if it finds a breach of the principle of "Sporting merit" or "A public feeling of injustice", according to its directives of April 23.

The fact remains that it does not fully satisfy the players in the field.

As argued, in an interview with The Team, LOSC president Gérard Lopez:

“PSG have taken more than two and a half points per game this season. We have played twice against Paris, while Rennes, who are one point behind in the league, have only played it once. Is it fair? "

And to propose " a more scientific calculation model, in which we would simulate the results of the last ten days, according to the points taken at home or outside, to obtain a ranking over 38 days. "

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Arguments taken up by Jean-Michel Aulas, the president of Olympique Lyonnais, who pleaded, for his part, for the holding of play-off and play-down (i.e. group stages and direct elimination) in August. He therefore sent a document to the LFP to that effect, revealed The team.

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