French clubs fail in bid to cut relegation in Ligue 1

There will be three teams relegated from Ligue 1 at the end of this season after France's Council of State dismissed proposals by top-flight clubs to reduce the number of demoted teams to two.

French clubs fail in bid to cut relegation in Ligue 1
PSG are unlikely to be among the three clubs relegated from Ligue 1. Photo: AFP

The Professional Football League (LFP) and 18 of the 20 Ligue 1 teams had made an urgent appeal to the Council of State to support their proposal of two up, two down, which had been initially thrown out by the French Football Federation.

The Council of State said there was a “lack of urgency” as they rejected the appeal and insisted that there should continue to be three up, three down at the end of this season.

However, the case is set to drag on, with the announcement just the first step in the judicial process. There will be further talks between the parties, meaning the matter will not be settled definitively until possibly January 2016.

It has caused a scission between top-flight clubs and those in France's Ligue 2, with those in the top tier saying reducing the number of relegated teams would create a less risky environment and would encourage more outside

Those in Ligue 2, meanwhile, are more concerned by the idea of losing one promotion spot and see the move as a first step in an attempt by the country's biggest clubs to make Ligue 1 a closed shop that sells its own broadcast rights — along the lines of the English Premier League.

Clubs in Ligue 1 are desperately looking for ways to increase revenues as they continue to lose their best players to the super-rich Premier League.

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‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”