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I-League suspense far from over


Luzenac to ask for Ligue 2 suspension

Former France and Man United goalkeeper Fabien Barthez (l), now director general of Luzenac, with coach Claude Pelissier (r).

Luzenac are to ask a court to suspend the Ligue 2 season as they continue their fight to be admitted to French football's second tier.

Runners-up in last season's National division, the minnows, who represent a village of some 650 inhabitants, were initially refused entry to Ligue 2 by French football's financial watchdog, the DNCG.

After a Toulouse court ordered the DNCG to reexamine the club's case, Luzenac's promotion was validated, only for the French Football League's (LFP) Adminstrative Council to then refuse them entry on the basis of the club not having a stadium meeting Ligue 2 requirements.

However, Luzenac president Jerome Ducros told RMC the venue in which they hoped to stage matches, the Stade Ernest Wallon, which is home to top rugby union outfit Stade Toulousain, only required less than a month's worth of work to meet LFP regulations, and that steps to assure that had already been taken.

"We knew that there was some work to do, the camera security system being one of those. It's a big building project. It's 15 days' to three weeks' work," Ducros explained.

"The Stade Ernest-Wallon staged France under-21 games twice last year, and has regularly hosted Toulouse when there are fixture problems with the European Cup or there is work to be done on the Stadium in Toulouse. It's an aberration to deny us promotion to Ligue 2 when we already have estimates for the work. They would have been done in three weeks."

Ducros added that the president of Ligue 1 side Toulouse, Olivier Sadran, had agreed to help out his smaller south-western neighbours to give them time to carry out the necessary renovations.

"President Sadran was ready to welcome us for two or three games, the time required for the work. An LFP commission came round on Aug. 6, the day before the Administrative Council meeting, and wrote its report on the 7th, except that the Administrative Council decided not to ratify our promotion on the morning of the 7th. You can clearly see that it's merely a plot to deny us promotion."

The club, which boasts 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winner Fabien Barthez as director general, will now ask the Administrative Court in Toulouse to halt the Ligue 2 season, in which clubs have already played two games.

"We're going to ask for Ligue 2 to be suspended. We have now understood that the authorities are playing for time, hoping to get to a number of games played after which it would be impossible for us to be admitted to the league," Ducros explained, adding that he expected the court to make a ruling before the end of the week, and claimed his club had not been given the same treatment as more illustrious rivals.

"I remind you that Lens' promotion to Ligue 1 was official at the start of July and they only had a stadium to play in a week or ten days afterwards. It's incredible. It is really unclear legally, and there is a procedural problem. We're going to emphasise this two-speed justice system in the sport."


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