French league needs to shrink in size says Marseille president

Simon Evans
·2-min read
Ligue 1 - Olympique de Marseille vs Nimes Olympique

By Simon Evans

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The president of top French club Olympique de Marseille says the French league needs to be reduced in size as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery of the game.

Jacques-Henri Eyraud, who is also a member of the French League (LFP) board, said 20-team leagues were no longer sustainable.

"I think we need to think about our governance and that includes format. I think there is a growing feeling, maybe not in the UK from what I heard, but certainly in France and maybe in other parts of Europe that nowadays having a league with 20 clubs is probably too much," he told the Financial Times' Business of Football Summit on Wednesday.

Ligue 1, like the Premier League, Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga, features 20 clubs, while Germany's Bundesliga has 18 teams.

Eyraud, who sits on UEFA's Club Competitions Committee, said that fixture congestion is part of the problem.

"We at Olympique Marseille have been playing a game every three days for the last four months and that is going to continue to be the case in February and March," he said.

"I think it is harmful to the players, it is not good for the organisation and I don't think it is good for the fans and this is certainly something that we should be thinking about very seriously because right now I do believe that playing in a 20 club league is no longer sustainable," he added.

The Marseille chief said that a smaller league should be seen as part of an overall series of post-COVID reforms of the game in France, which has been hit by the collapse of their broadcast deal.

"There are a lot of reforms to be discussed, this is certainly in the pipeline, I don't know the outcome of it but we are certainly part of these discussions and that is why I think there will be a pre and post-COVID world when it comes to Ligue 1 for sure and probably other leagues in Europe," he said.

(The story has been refiled to amend Tuesday to Wednesday in par 3)

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Christian Radnedge)