According to French outlet L’Equipe, Ligue 1 is due to undergo a big reform that will cut the number of teams from 20 to 18. There are presently 20 teams in the French league. The top two finishers are immediately qualified for the Champions League, while the third-place finisher must compete in the qualifying rounds. Fourth and fifth place automatically qualify for the Europa League, while sixth place is allocated to the new Europa Conference League.
This system of selection is a tad different as compared to the other top European leagues. For example, in the Premier League, the top 4 teams directly qualify for the Champions League. The sides that finish fifth and sixth secure a berth for the Europa League group stages. Furthermore, the team that finish seventh will feature in the Europa Conference League.
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In France, the two lowest-placed teams are demoted to Ligue 2, and the team in 18th position competes in a two-legged relegation play-off game against the team that wins the play-off from the second division. The arrangement, however, appears to be in process to change. L’Equipe reports that the league will be cut to 18 teams starting in the 2023/24 season. Four teams will be relegated from the League 1 from the season prior.
This is a reversion to the league’s previous structure, which had 18 teams until 2002. Metz is said to be the solitary side that opposes the concept. The reform comes at a time when Ligue 1 is facing financial difficulties. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on clubs’ finances, with games being played beyond closed doors.
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Meanwhile, the €3.25 billion TV agreement with Mediapro that fell through has had a significant influence in retrospect with the league. When the 4-team demotion happens, the Ligue 1 will not be the only big league that consists of 18 teams. The Bundesliga is the most renowned of the 18-team leagues, but the Eredivisie and Liga NOS also have 18 teams. For the time being, Ligue 2 is set to remain unchanged. However, there may be conversations of lowering it to 18 as well.