LFP seeks damages over fans’ limit



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French Football League update Sept 2020 Image: French Football League

Following the French Government imposing 5,000-fans limit for sporting events in the country, the French Football League (LFP) has written to the French Government requesting compensation.

As per media reports, LFP Chief Executive Didier Quillot has requested the compensation in a letter addressed to French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex. The compensation demand is said to be upwards of €100m ($118.3m).

In August, Castex announced that the French Government would maintain the 5,000-spectator limit on venues until at least October 30th. The limit had been due to expire on August 31st but a two-month extension was imposed in response to resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the country.

When France announced the spectator limit, Castex explained that event organizers could apply for exemptions that would allow them to slightly raise the number of supporters who would be allowed into the venue fold in some scenarios. But so far, no football club has succeeded in exceeding the 5,000-fan threshold.

Bernard Laporte, President of the French Rugby Federation (FFR), recently revealed that he had made the bold request for an exemption that would allow Paris’ Stade de France to greet back 55,000 fans for the rescheduled Six Nations match against Ireland on October 31st.

Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs are likely to burn a big hole in their pockets if the measures continue and Quillot’s contention is that the sport of rugby has been given preferential treatment by the French authorities.

At the top of the French football league system, it is the country’s primary football competition. Administrated by the Ligue de Football Professionnel, Ligue 1 is contested by 20 clubs and operates on a system of promotion and relegation from and to Ligue 2. Seasons run from August to May.

“Today, we have not had a single exemption while [Top 14] Rugby had two,” he is reported to have said during a meeting of the league’s Board of Directors.

“We have also worked on a request for compensation for the loss of ticketing and hospitality revenue linked to the reduced-capacity matches,” Quillot added.

At the same time, however, the LFP is said to be facing a compensation claim of its own from Jean-Michel Aulas, President of Ligue 1 side Olympique Lyonnais.

Aulas is reported by Le Parisien to be claiming €117.7m in compensation from the LFP for damages suffered as a consequence of the early termination of the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season. The cancellation deprived Lyon, who was seventh at the time, of the opportunity to climb up the table and qualify for next season’s Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) club competitions.

Aulas has long threatened to claim damages, suggesting that the league would have been better served by organizing a series of play-offs in August.

Ligue 1 was ultimately the only one of Europe’s top five leagues not to complete its 2019-20 seasons. The French league’s 2020-21 campaign began last weekend.

In May, the LFP general assembly adopted a resolution enabling it to take out a €224.5m State-guaranteed loan to make up for the shortfall in broadcast rights monies caused by the termination of the 2019-20 seasons.

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