'They are robbing us' - Lyon president Aulas criticises Ligue 1 for ending season early amid coronavirus

Jean-Michel Aulas LyonGettyimages

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas says the club have been "robbed" of the chance to play for European football and says the decision of Ligue 1 to end the season early and award final placings on a points-per-game basis is unfair.

After the announcement by French prime minister Edouard Philippe that no football could take place before September, the league governing body (LFP) confirmed on Thursday that the season was over and that the championship and European places would be awarded via points per game.

This means Paris Saint-Germain are awarded a third successive Ligue 1 title, while Marseille and Rennes take the other two Champions League places.

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Lyon, meanwhile, finish seventh, outside of the European places, meaning they look set to miss out on continental football for the first time since 1997. They only way they can qualify is if the Coupe de la Ligue resumes - they face PSG in the final - or the Champions League starts again, with OL trailing Barcelona 1-0 after the first leg of their aborted last-16 tie.

The club announced on Thursday night they are considering legal action against LFP over their decision to end the league, which they claim has been taken too hastily and contravenes UEFA's stance that qualifying places should be awarded on "sporting merit". They claim the league should be finished in a series of play-offs to end the season.

These claims were echoed by president Aulas, who said that the differences in fixtures between clubs meant they had played tougher games than some of those who finished above them, and also criticised the French football federation (FFF) for showing a lack of leadership.

Speaking to French newspaper Le Progres, Aulas said: “We contest this decision on three points. The stoppage of the league was decided by the LFP based on a certain number of pieces of information that were not decreed by the French government, notably with the recent statements from the minister for sport [Roxana Maracineanu], on being able to play behind closed doors and in front of less than 5,000 people.

"We find that the LFP moved very quickly to stop the league. We put together a number of other scenarios, with playoffs that could have interested a number of TV broadcasters.

"I don’t want to attack one club more than another but Nice [who finished fifth] played more home games than us and played PSG once, while Lyon played them twice.

"This is not a decision without consequences, like for the amateur clubs. There are considerable things at stake. Over the course of the last 10 years, Lyon made up ground at least three times on the second placed side when there was a situation of being more than 10 points behind them.

"This is robbing us of an opportunity that is very significant, of high value. We are going to claim damages, that are worth several dozen million Euros.

“Noel Le Graet has to face the consequences as president of the FFF. His management here was poor. There were poorly thought-out decisions.

"The relationship with the TV broadcasters was surprising. The governance during this period was questionable, almost all the presidents of the clubs think that. There are a number of things that should not have happened and we will not be leaving it there.”