French professional football is old enough to plan for the future. This summer, it celebrates its 90th anniversary and the anniversary of its very first edition, in August 1932, then called “national division”. He has lived well since then and here is his Ligue 1, so named since 2002, which resumes work from the first weekend of August (1) and is preparing for an extraordinary season. When she gives birth to her champion, on June 3, 2023, it will be after ten months of gestation interspersed with a long and unusual interruption, from November 13 – the matches of the 15e day – to December 28. Forty-four days without an official match to make way for the World Cup in Qatar (November 21-December 18), postponed to the end of the year. The exercise is exceptional and promised not to be repeated, but it leaves all the major European championships, including Ligue 1, waiting. A first question.
“We will play every three days”
“This season is special with this long interruption in the middle, recently remarked Pablo Longoria, boss of the OM management board, at a press conference. It changes the plan. From August 7 until November 2, there will be a lot of matches. That’s why it’s going to be important to have different profiles. We are going to play every three days, ”counts the Marseille leader whose club is also involved in the Champions League, thinking of recruitment to digest the obstacle.
The World Cup in less than four months
Since the end of June, the sporting puzzle of the summer preparation of the workforce has been at least as important as the management of internationals from all countries, who are already aiming for the World Cup in less than four months. And, in a quarter, the cut will leave non-internationals without activity. “In Angers, we should opt for two weeks of vacation in November”, explains Gérald Baticle, coach of the city club, when the season will not have reached its halfway point. “The players need it at that time to have some freshness in order to move on to the long second part of the season. Two weeks of vacation, it does not make a huge break and it does not require redoing a very long preparation behind. »
The last season at 20 clubs
If the progress of the upcoming championship remains an enigma for the coaches, its outcome worries club leaders even more. Ligue 1 is living its last season with 20 clubs, as it decided in June 2021. Since 2002, it had regained its ease by going from 18 to 20 teams in the elite. The financial crisis caused jointly by the cessation of competition in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic and the fiasco of the television contract with the Spanish operator Mediapro has put the Professional Football League (LFP) and its clubs in the red. The debt has increased, the financial imbalance as well.
The search for new income
The LFP urgently identified solutions. Two, mainly. At the end of March, it created its commercial subsidiary to try to preserve “the ecosystem of French football”. The goal ? Develop projects to find other sources of income than the eternal television rights, now revised downwards. The method ? The financial contribution of CVC Capital Partners, which will invest up to 1.5 billion euros in the commercial subsidiary valued at 11.5 billion euros. CVC enters 13% in the capital and intends to grow its investment on future profits. Clearly, Ligue 1 must sell better, generate more profits, arouse more desire for foreign investors. In a permanent way. Second question.
an impact on the athlete
“This project constitutes a major step for the development of French football and a historic step forward for sport in France”, justified Vincent Labrune, president of the LFP, in March. “Beyond having chosen the best candidate financially, we needed a partner who would help us grow in our future projects and understand our DNA. His unique expertise in media and sport (F1, Moto GP, Six Nations, volleyball, football, etc.) was also a structuring point for us. »
The fear in the stomach not to go down
The agreement between clubs for the payment of the first aid provided by the commitment of CVC ranges from 200 million euros to PSG up to 33 million euros for the less well off of the L1. The passage from 20 to 18 clubs also accompanies the reform to which French football has resolved. They will be two less from next summer to share the cake. That is three or four descents in June 2023 (2). “I’m afraid we’ll be seeing m… matches, because everyone will play with fear in their stomachs so as not to go down. It’s going to be war every Sunday. We are several worried presidents ”, feared Laurent Nicollin, president of Montpellier, in the spring of 2021, before finally voting for the passage to 18. Third question. A year has passed. This summer, Ligue 1 is facing its doubts. You have to play.