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Apr 23, 2013

Ranieri's Monaco close in on promotion

Claudio Ranieri has told his Monaco players to continue the scintillating form that has taken them to the brink of a return to Ligue 1 and ensure they clinch promotion.

Monaco were watched by the tennis world No. 1 Novak Djokovic as they dismantled Clermont 4-0 at the Stade Louis II on Monday to move seven points clear in Ligue 2 with five games left.

With three teams promoted automatically and Monaco ten points in front of fourth-placed Angers, the leaders could wrap up promotion with victory at Sedan next Monday.

Speaking after Monday's win - a 16th league game without defeat - Ranieri, 61, said: "It's a further step towards Ligue 1, but we have to keep going.

"I'm going to see whether or not my players are in the same frame of mind as me. I want them to continue like this, to find the best possible solution, as they did this evening. I was blown away by what we did in the first half. It was very good."

While the principality club are poised to end their two-year absence from the top flight, the nature of the role they will play when they return remains uncertain.

A 19th-century agreement between France and Monaco, which means foreign players do not pay income tax and consequently allows the club to pay bigger salaries than French-based rivals, is under threat.

The French Football League (LFP) has ordered all clubs playing in its competitions to be based on French soil - and therefore subject to French tax laws - by 2014 or face exclusion. An appeal by the club to the French Football Federation's Executive Committee produced nothing more than a recommendation by the body for the parties to reach an agreement between themselves.

Ranieri's assistant, Jean Petit, told RMC Radio that the mood within the club remains defiant. "I know the former president, the new president and the vice-president Jean-Louis Campora are busying themselves with this problem and won't let it go," he said.

"That's just like His Serene Highness [Albert II of Monaco], who has said we'll go right to the end. To the end of what, I don't know - but we're going to fight."

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