The French League: Is it Enough to be a Suspenseful League?

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Hi guys,
Okay, let’s cut through the chase here. The French league may not be the most spectacular in terms of amount of goals. However, it’s for sure the most suspenseful league among the major european leagues. With 4 points separating the 1st from the 10th, anything can happen, and suspense is at its peak!

The English Premier League will see a fierce battle for the crown between (honestly) 5 teams. The regular ones; Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd, Manchester City and the sleeping giant Tottenham. Only 6 points between the 1st and the 5th. It’s a scenario we’ve seen over and over again.

Ligue 1 Ranking

With 10 points ahead, Borussia Dortmund shall win the league for the 7th time in its history. La Liga will crown either Barca or Real, unless Villareal play the trouble makers, yeah right! Identical scenario in Italy where AC Milan is sailing for the scudetto on May 22nd.

So, there might not be a ranking revolution in european leagues except for the Ligue 1. But what does that mean? It outlines two major points;

1. Lack of leaders
60% of the french teams have a very similar level and no one is clearly above the flock. Back in the 90’s where Olympique de Marseille was dominating the french league, teams were focusing on the 2nd or 3rd spot as Jean-Pierre Papin team mates were untouchable.

So we can point out a lack of leading team is blatant. Teams such as PSG, OM, Bordeaux and Lyon should be the driving force of the L1, and consequently lift up the other teams playing level. As none of those teams dominate the League, the overall playing level is not being challenged enough, and consequently, french teams cannot perform better in european competitions.

2. Lack of support from the institutions
France is the only country in Europe where an fiscal organisation called DNCG (Football Audit Organisation) is having a strong scrutiny on football club finances. French football clubs MUST NOT bear any debt whatsoever. If they do, they face being relegated to 2nd league. Very unfair when looking at the EPL, La Liga and Serie A clubs are indebted up to many million euros. In addition, players in France pay up to 50% taxes. Another incentive to make them go play in other leagues.

This triggers a simple phenomenon. The best players leave, and remain the “average” ones with the ones that have not left yet. The consequence is a very tight (suspenseful) league. In a nutshell, the institutions (FFF, LFP, Government) are not doing their utmost to make the french league a strong competitive league with international players.

However, the Ligue 1 remains very suspenseful, nonetheless interesting to watch. But is it the right path to become a major football league where its clubs will win Champions League and Europa League trophies? What is the hope of seeing Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi or Villa play for PSG, OM or even St Etienne?

You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs. But I feel that the only egg the Ligue 1 has, is the egg of suspense. Enough for a tasty omelette? I don’t think so. Do you?

Karl Lusbec

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