On April 28, the French government announced that no sporting events could take place in the country before September. This led to the cancelation of the Ligue 1 season on April 30 and Paris Saint-Germain were crowned champions with 10 games remaining.
The decision was supported by the Minister for Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, who stated on May 5 that “it is the proposition that I have in my office: a season had to finish on August 3 owing to dates imposed by UEFA.”
Unfortunately, not only does it appear Ligue 1 was canceled prematurely, but officials were using incorrect information when making their decision.
According to a letter dated May 14 and obtained by Le Parisien, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin wrote to Olympique Lyonnais President Jean-Michel Aulas and explained that the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season could have take all of August if needed instead of the previous end date that was thought to be August 3.
This only adds fuel to the fire considering Aulas has taken legal action against the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) for ending the season early and costing his team a chance to play in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League next season.
“As for whether UEFA has actually given its member associations a deadline of August 3 to finish their national championships, the following clarification should answer your question,” Čeferin’s letter reads. “The dates of July 20 (for national associations classified 16 to 55) and August 3 (for those classified 1 to 1.5, which includes France) were described in the presentations made at meetings with secretaries and presidents of 55 UEFA member associations on April 21 and at meetings between UEFA, the European Club Association and Union of European Leagues working groups. However, we have always mentioned during these meetings that these dates are only recommendations, provisional, and not official. I hope that these explanations will provide sufficient answers to your questions.”
Čeferin also outlined two possible solutions for the end of the Ligue 1 season in his letter.
“During a videoconference on April 23, the UEFA Executive Committee unanimously stressed that the health of the players, spectators, and all those involved in football, as well as the general public, must remain the main consideration at present…UEFA’s recommendation was [for] the national associations and leagues to do their best to complete the national championships in progress either in the original format or in a suitable format, if necessary. The aim was to do everything to protect the competitions and guarantee the application of the principle of sporting merit.”
What we have here is a huge mess that was completely avoidable. In addition to the lawsuit, we also have former managers claiming this entire situation is a government conspiracy against Lyon and clubs in serious financial peril with the lack of revenue from broadcasting rights.
The Bundesliga has officially resumed following the coronavirus layoff and Serie A, Premier League, and La Liga are all expected to follow in the coming weeks. There was no reason for the LFP to act so quickly especially when the August 3 deadline was completely fabricated.
I can understand the urge to be over-cautious in this situation but nothing would have been harmed by waiting a few weeks and seeing how the other leagues handle safety issues on match day.
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