French court suspends relegation of Amiens and Toulouse from Ligue 1
France’s highest administrative court on Tuesday blocked the relegation of Amiens and Toulouse from Ligue 1 after ordering the football authorities to rethink the format for the next season's top flight.
The two clubs descended into Ligue 2 when the Ligue de Football Professional (LFP) declared the season over on 30 April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Paris Saint-Germain were anointed Ligue 1 champions while second placed Marseille gained a place in next season’s Uefa Champions League. Rennes, who were third, advanced to the qualifying rounds for the competition.
Amiens and Toulouse went to the Conseil d’Etat to challenge their demotion. Amiens' president, Bernard Joannin, called the LFP's move unjust and arbitrary.
Lyon, who were among several clubs which lost out on the chance to challenge for a place in next season’s Europa League, also lodged a complaint at the court over the early end to the campaign.
Their case was thrown out.
"The decision to proceed to final standings in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 doesn't necessarily lead, by itself, to the relegation to Ligue 2 of the bottom two in Ligue 1, nor the promotion to Ligue 1 of the top two in Ligue 2," the court ruling added.
The Conseil d'Etat judge told the LFP to talk to the French Football Federation (FFF) about the make-up of next season's Ligue 1 that could feature 22 teams - two more than usual.
The LFP acknowledged the ruling on its Twitter account.
The FFF also said it would take note of the court's decision.
Toulouse welcomed the Conseil D'Etat's ruling. "The club always maintained that its relegation at the end of the season was illegal. Its stance has been borne out by the Conseil D'Etat," said a statement.
The season's conclusion with 10 rounds of matches unplayed followed a French government announcement that professional sports could not restart before September due to the coronavirus pandemic which had claimed just over 20,000 lives
That figure has since risen to nearly 30,000. But while French politicians forced professional football to contemplate the 2020/21 campaign, the German Bundesliga and Portugal’s Primeira Liga have resumed the 2019/20 season with the blessing of their respective governments.
La Liga in Spain, which has 2,000 fewer coronavirus deaths than France, will restart on 11 June and England’s Premier League will relaunch on 17 June even though Britain has registered the second highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world.