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Aug 7, 2013

Commission to decide Monaco fate

Monaco will find out on Wednesday if they must start their Ligue 1 campaign with a two-point deduction following a pitch invasion last season.

Monaco celebrated promotion after defeating Le Mans in May.
Monaco celebrated promotion after defeating Le Mans in May.

After Monaco clinched promotion with a 2-1 win against Le Mans on May 17, supporters piled on to the pitch and referee Antony Gautier was struck in the back during the celebrations.

In June, league authorities ruled that Monaco should be docked two points, with a further point due to be chalked off should their fans transgress again. The club were also ordered to play their first home game next season behind closed doors.

Monaco appealed the decision to the French Football Federation’s Superior Appeals Commission, a case that was due to be heard in Paris on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Monaco manager Claudio Ranieri has made a top-three finish the minimum target for the Ligue 2 champions’ first season back in the top flight.

The club from the principality spent about €150 million in the summer as their Russian owner Dmitry Rybolovlev seeks to make an immediate impact in Ligue 1.

But despite bringing in experienced players like Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, Ricardo Carvalho, Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan, Ranieri, 61, has sought to play down their title expectations.

“Monaco’s ambition is to get back to European football,” he told Reuters. “To do that, from this season, we absolutely have to finish in the top three, but that won’t be easy knowing that the squad has been greatly changed and that we’ll have to recreate a team, a group, an identity and a history.

“The work to be carried out to be efficient in all those areas cannot be done from one day to the next. Especially since our opponents have a head start in those areas, and what’s more, they’ve also strengthened, while we’re practically starting from scratch.”

The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss said it would take time for the squad to gel and dismissed concerns that the pressure to get results straightaway could prove a handicap.

“No, because the directors know that there’s going to be this work and time required, as well as a little bit of luck at the same time — without cutting corners — to climb into the top three and to try to steal a Champions League place from PSG, Lyon and Marseille.”

Ranieri said the investment that the likes of Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain are making in Ligue 1 can only raise the standard of the French championship, and that he is relishing the challenge in the principality.

“I feel good here,” he said. “I hope to stay here for a long time because I like to place myself in a context where there’s a possibility of developing a squad and a club. That’s what I did in the past with Fiorentina in Italy, Valencia in Spain and Chelsea in England.”

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