Ligue 1: Paris St-Germain awarded French title as season finished early

PSG have now won three consecutive Ligue 1 titles

Paris St-Germain have been awarded the Ligue 1 title after it was announced the season would not resume because of the coronavirus pandemic.

PSG were 12 points clear at the top of the table, with a game in hand, when French football was suspended indefinitely on 13 March.

Earlier this week the French government cancelled the 2019-20 sporting season.

The club said they wished to dedicate the title “to healthcare staff and all the everyday heroes on the front line”.

PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi added that French essential workers’ “commitment and self-sacrifice over many weeks have earned our deepest admiration”.

He continued: “We understand, respect and support the decisions taken by the French Government to end the championship. Health, as the government has always said, must be everyone’s priority.

“In these difficult times, I hope that this trophy will bring a little happiness and hope to all our supporters, and I am grateful to them for their unwavering support which helps drive Paris St-Germain forward.”

Before the government’s intervention, French football’s governing body had been hoping to resume the season on 17 June.

PSG have been awarded the title on a points-per-game basis, while Lorient have been crowned Ligue 2 champions on the same principle.

They were just one point above Lens when the season was suspended and both teams will be promoted.

Amiens and Toulouse will be relegated from Ligue 1.

Lyon – who were fifth a week before the last match day, but finished seventh – said they might appeal against the verdict.

Now set to miss out on a place in Europe next season, Lyon say they also “reserve the right to claim damages”, which the club say amount to “several tens of millions of euros”.

“There might be appeals but our decisions are solid,” said Didier Quillot, the chief executive of the French League (LFP).

Quillot added the LFP had until 25 May to tell Uefa which clubs will be qualified for European competitions.

That is the same day by which European leagues have to tell European football’s governing body whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.

The Dutch top flight was abandoned on Friday with no promotion or relegation and no champions, while on Monday Belgian clubs postponed a vote on confirming the cancellation of their top flight until next week.

Analysis

BBC World Service reporter John Bennett

The French football authorities had three main options when it came to deciding the final league positions. They did not go for freezing the table after 27 games or freezing the table when everyone had played each other once, and instead they chose the points per game system.

The big losers from that decision are Lyon, who were in the Europa League places after match day 27, but under these rules finish in seventh place.

It means their only hope of getting into Europe next season is either winning the League Cup final, which could still be played later in the year but will probably be cancelled, or winning the Champions League, which is unlikely even if Uefa manage to somehow complete the matches.

Meanwhile, PSG’s dominance made the decision to crown champions a lot easier in France than it was in the Netherlands, where Ajax and AZ Alkmaar were level on points at the top and the KNVB decided there would be no title winners.

So a reason to celebrate for PSG but of course their main aim this season was to win the Champions League and remember, as unlikely as it would seem, they are still hoping they can complete that mission, saying that they would be prepared to play their matches abroad in August if it is not possible to play in France.

French clubs now have to count the cost of losing crucial TV revenue in this shortened season and there will be some difficult decisions to be made for many of them.

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