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Why Lyon pushing for Ligue 1 to restart: Is there really a way back?

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Among the five major leagues in Europe, Ligue 1 is the only competition which has been cancelled. While Bundesliga has already resumed, the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A are set to action later in June

After the coronavirus halted all major sporting activities across the globe, officials of the French Football Federation decided to cancel the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 in April, with 10 rounds of matches remaining to be played in the top tier. 

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The league’s final standings were decided on points per game basis, which meant Lyon missed out on European slots as they finished seventh. Paris Saint-Germain were declared champions, while Toulouse and Amiens were relegated to Ligue 2. 

This has prompted Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas to take a stand against the league officials, stating that Ligue 1 should follow the example of Premier League in resuming action instead of cancelling the league altogether. 

Lyon’s stand against Ligue 1’s cancellation:

Lyon recently released a statement in which they had petitioned the Ligue de Football Professionnel to reconsider their decision to stop professional football in the country. 

This comes after the league officials earlier said that football won’t be possible before September. However, a couple of days ago, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that football clubs will be allowed to resume training from 2nd June as France is set to ease lockdown restrictions.

Teams will also be allowed to have friendly fixtures by 22nd June, but the latest decision has irked Aulas who continues to argue that if it’s possible to have professional football up and running in the country, why not restart the Ligue 1 and play out the remaining fixtures?

Why restarting the Ligue 1 makes sense for Lyon?

Lyon, are one of the sides hell-bent on getting the league up and running again because they have effectively missed out on European football for next season. Playing out the remaining 10 fixtures would at least give them a chance of qualifying for Europe. 

Les Gones could well win a place in the Champions League next season by winning the competition this term, but it’s an extremely difficult scenario to imagine. They could also play in the Europa League in 2020-21 but have to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the French Cup for that. 

Aulas, in his appeal to the French government, stated that clubs could stand to lose huge sums of money as a consequence of the league’s cancellation. 

Moreover, taking the example of the Premier League, the Lyon President added that it doesn’t reflect well on the image of Ligue 1, as all the other major European leagues are looking to finish the current season. 

The stance of other Ligue 1 teams:

While still an unlikely scenario, how do Lyon try and get the league to overturn their earlier decision?

Lyon would need to convince other clubs as well, and in all certainty, Aulas would need to get the majority of the 20 Ligue 1 side in his stead, and this is where things get tricky. 

Clubs like Marseille and Rennes will be very happy with how things ended as they got a passage through to the Champions League next season, they wouldn’t want to risk things if the league does get restarted again. 

Same for Lille and Nice as well, with the two clubs securing Europa League qualification. As a result, it’s difficult to imagine that many clubs would be enthusiastic at the prospect of Ligue 1 resuming. 

The verdict:

Supposedly, even if a majority of Ligue 1 clubs vote in favour of the resumption of the league, the final decision will still be taken by the French Football Federation – another stumbling block in Aulas’ bid to get things back on track. 

Officials are already working on the structure of how the next season could be played out, and that would be the best thing for all parties involved, to keep things as they are and start planning for the future. 

Lyon did win the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash against Juventus by a 1-0 margin, and while its’s hard to see them winning the continental competition, they could very well try and beat PSG in the French Cup and book their tickets for next season’s Europa League.  

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