Between 1997 and 2002, the first division of French football had 18 clubs. However, it had no impact on how the squads performed in Europe because, in 2004, Ligue 1 went back to 20, AS Monaco and Olympique de Marseille played the final of the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup.
Now former president of Marseille, Vincent Labrune, who was recently elected as president of the Ligue de Football Professionnel, indiscriminately raised the idea of reducing the number of teams to remedy the economic blow that the pandemic has left this year.
Labrune gave the Bundesliga as an example, which has 18 teams and its national investors stand out for their excellent sports management. The decision to go from 20 to 18 clubs in Ligue 1 is debatable on the beneficiary factors.
Nonetheless, such a move might cause surprise in French football beyond creating interest in the parties involved. Labrune gave an interview to the Journal du Dimanche (via Paris Fans) and went there where he had the opportunity to discuss French football’s difficulties.
One of the reasons Labrune wants to downsize from 20 to 18 clubs for Ligue 1 is that it provides better competition, which means quality matches that could generate revenue from potential investors.
“Our competitions must first be reinvented. We must rediscover sporting uncertainty, increase the competitiveness of our clubs, and create a fertile ground, which will make it possible to attract new investors and partners in order to generate new resources. We must finally unify French football, build the future together by stopping working in silos,” Labrune said.
“We grant Ligue 1 the fact of being part of the European top 5: I find that very flattering in terms of display, but we have not won a European Cup since 1996 when nine other countries did. We need to find a way to change the course for the biggest clubs by increasing their income. At the same time, we must seek to strengthen the smaller ones and, for example, make broadcasters want to bet more on Ligue 2.”
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