for the elite clubs, the season of all dangers

It’s a pre-season ritual. Each year, as the resumption of the French championship approaches, specialists and football fans like to analyze the list of clubs playing in Ligue 1, the highest national level, to cut it into several categories: who will be the contenders for the title ? Who can hope to end the year on a runner-up synonymous with qualification for a European Cup? Who will have to fight to stay in the elite of French football?

At the dawn of the 2022-2023 season, which begins Friday August 5 with the Lyon-Ajaccio poster, this last category promises to be exceptionally fuller than usual. The reason ? The four direct descents to the lower level, in Ligue 2 – and no longer two as up to now –, which will punctuate the exercise, Ligue 1 having to go from 20 to 18 residents in 2023-2024.

This reduction in the airfoil had been recorded in June 2021 by the general assembly of the Professional Football League (LFP) almost unanimously: 97.28% of the votes, only the Metz club had voted against. The objectives are multiple. By lowering the number of meetings (from 38 to 34 per club), this measure will free up dates in a calendar which will, at the same time, be weighed down by the new format of the Champions League. Deployed in 2024-2025, it promises at least two additional meetings per participant.

Read also: Ligue 1 reduced to 18 clubs: “We are in a short-term vision”

In addition to the desire to put the French teams in the best conditions on the continental scene, the objective is also and above all financial. Less numerous, the clubs will share a larger share of the income from television broadcasting rights, the call for tenders for the period 2024-2028 will take place in 2023.

“No one can feel safe”

It is therefore a year of transition which opens this weekend. But like the flat stages of the last Tour de France, it only has transition in name. The season presents itself as one of all dangers. Especially for the recently promoted, often among the most fragile the year of their rise in Ligue 1.

“It happens that we climb the year when there will be four descents! It’s a bit stupid, but that’s how it is, recently laughed Jean-Marc Furlan, the coach of AJ Auxerre. But it is better to be in Ligue 1.” AJA, like the other two promoted (Toulouse and Ajaccio), will be on the front line in a fight for maintenance which will involve many teams. “We are going to be one of the favorites for the descent, legitimately”admits Pascal Gastien, the coach of Clermont, 17e and first non-relegation last season.

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