Ligue 1 reduces relegation spots from three to two from next season
The French Football League (LFP) has taken the radical step of reducing the number of teams relegated from Ligue 1 next season from three to two in order to give investors "more security."
The LFP's Administrative Council voted 13 to 1, with seven abstensions, in favour of the change, which will see only two sides promoted the top flight at the end of the 2015-16 campaign.
"Investors need a little more security," LFP president Frederic Thiriez argued in L'Equipe on Friday. "Three up, three down is too many. Those who invest in football must be less subject to the permanent threat of relegation. Two down out of 20 clubs is good."
The same system will be put in place for promotion and relegation to and from Ligue 2 and the third tier of French football, the National division.
It will make France the only major European football country to have such a system. The German Bundesliga has two automatic relegation/promotion places, but the team third from bottom of the top tier faces the third-placed club in the second division in a two-legged playoff to determine the remaining place.
"I don't like it, because it prevents little teams from progressing," Juninho Pernambucano, who won seven successive Ligue 1 titles with Lyon, told RMC. "It's going to be even easier to stay up. I would like three or four teams to be promoted. Two really isn't much.
"Teams are happy to be promoted for just one season, that's better than spending your whole life in Ligue 2. Promotion is a title, like being champions."
Juninho's former Lyon teammate and fellow RMC pundit Gregory Coupet added: "It's a way of protecting Ligue 1, that's clear. Are teams going to be less cautious with fewer teams going down?
"On the other hand, it takes away a lot of the suspense at the end of the season, because with three going down, a lot of teams can be involved and it creates very tense games. But I also understand the idea of protecting Ligue 1 investors. For those in Ligue 2, it'll be more difficult."
Relegated ahead of Saturday's final game of the top-flight campaign as the third team of the bottom three, Evian-Thonon-Gaillard would have been safe in that position next season.
"That adds to our bitterness and sadness," the Savoy club's coach Pascal Dupraz told L'Equipe. "This measure reduces the glorious incertitude of sport even if it won't stop two small clubs getting promoted and two big ones going down, because the truth will out on the pitch, but it will depend increasingly on economic means."
Nancy president Jacques Rousselot revealed he had proposed an alternative system of a play-off between the teams 18th in Ligue 1 and third in Ligue 2 for a top-flight spot.
And he said: "It is unacceptable and intolerable to trample on our work. I am not defending the interests simply of Nancy but of all [Ligue 2] clubs and also those of amateur football.''
Dijon coach Olivier Dall'Oglio -- whose side would additionally need a six-goal swing if they are to wrest promotion from Angers -- added: "The current system seems fair to me. I am also surprised it happened so quickly. There was not enough consideration. There will be Ligue 2 clubs who will contest this.''