French Football League (LFP) president Frederic Thiriez is keen to return Ligue 1 to an 18-club competition, according to L’Equipe.
The French newspaper reports that the proposal has already polarised opinion within the French game, with the top division having previously existed with 18 clubs from 1997-98 before it returned to its traditional 20-club model when the Ligue 1 brand was formed in 2002-03.
Thiriez’s plan is understood to revolve around improving the quality of Ligue 1, reducing the fixture calendar and increasing the distribution of TV revenues for clubs in the top flight. The proposal would also reduce the number of promotion and relegation places between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 from three to two and introduce a financial bonus system for French clubs that are successful in the UEFA Europa League. However, L’Equipe said smaller Ligue 1 clubs and Ligue 2 teams have no intention of supporting such a plan.
The Sports.fr website said the likes of Olympique Lyonnais, Rennes and Girondins de Bordeaux would all back the proposal. “This is a proposal that must be studied,” said Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas. “I am all for a system that allows clubs competing in European competitions to have the best chance to win games and score points for France.” Lorient, Saint-Etienne and Lille are all believed to be against the move, along with Montpellier whose president Louis Nicollin said: “Thiriez’s arguments do not hold water. When I was told that going to 18 will relieve the economy of some clubs, I said hogwash.”