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Barthez fury as promotion overruled

France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez lifts the World Cup in 1998.
1998 World Cup-winner Barthez feels the decision is an injustice.

Fabien Barthez has hit out at the French football authorities after his club were refused promotion to Ligue 2.

The World Cup-winning former Manchester United player, 43, is director general of Luzenac Ariege Pyrenees, a club from a south-western village with a population of just 650.

The club were runners-up in the National division last season, becoming the smallest ever to reach the second tier.

However, while champions Orleans and third-placed GFC Ajaccio will definitely play in Ligue 2 next season, the DNCG, French football's financial watchdog, has refused to ratify Luzenac Ariege Pyrenees' promotion.

The DNCG based its initial decision, made in early June, on the fact that the club's stadium did not comply with French Football League standards.

However, even after a deal was agreed with rugby club Stade Toulousain to play at their Ernest-Wallon Stadium, the DNCG ruled that they could not be promoted to Ligue 2.

"Because we're considered a little, amateur club, we get done over by the professional milieu," an angry Barthez told L'Equipe.

"We're taken so lightly that, during our hearing at the DNCG, one of the members left the room in the middle of the debate because he had a plane to catch.

"We'll exhaust every avenue. The players earned their place on the pitch, and to deny them the right to play in Ligue 2 is an enormous injustice based only on lobbying or arbitrary reasons."

The ex-Monaco and Marseille man added: "We upset people, that's all. But we're going to fight. The club's finances are not a single euro in the red, and my president has even increased the capital. Our position is clear: we won't start again in National."

Luzenac can take their case to France's Olympic Committee, but should they fail to get the decision overturned they will be replaced in Ligue 2 by Istres, whose relegation would be overturned.


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