Tunisian league leaders react negatively to relegation cancellation

The top two, leaders Esperance and second-placed Etoile, are at odds with the FTF’s announcement that no teams will be demoted from the 2010-11 season

Officials from both Esperance and Etoile have voiced concerns over the timing and substance of the Tunisian Football Federation’s (FTF) decision to cancel relegation in the north African country’s top three divisions for the 2010/11 season just two games before the end of the Ligue Professionnelle 1 campaign. One of the last two games has since been played and the leaders are separated by a mere two points but both agree that the FTF made a mistake.

“This decision came two match-days before the end of the championship and hurts the competitiveness of some matches, offering the title on a silver platter to Esperance,” said Etoile spokesman Chokri Laamiri while speaking to Tunis Afrique Presse.

Laamiri went on to say that his team would play on despite their disapproval of the “unilateral decision which didn’t take into account the opinion of all clubs” and added that such a move was illegal since the FTF is only entitled make such a ruling during the general assembly, scheduled for August 12.

The latter point was echoed by Esperance’s secretary general, Kamel Bouhaouala, who also made it clear that that the choice was something of a “poisoned gift” since it didn’t necessarily guarantee that his side would lift the trophy and also would lead to the weakening of the Tunisian domestic league next season since promotion was not cancelled and there will be 16 teams instead of 14 in the top-flight.      

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