June 22 – By a supreme irony, France, the only one of Europe’s major leagues to shut down the domestic league season prematurely because of Covid 19, has now become the first country to announce that a limited number of fans can attend when stadiums re-open in July.
French authorities say that from July 11, up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to watch live sport, meaning that whereas the league campaign was ended, the postponed French Cup and League Cup finals can now be played – and not totally behind closed doors.
Ligue 1’s 2019-20 season was dramatically cancelled in April with Paris Saint-Germain named champions despite other European leagues deciding to finish their campaigns.
Earlier this month, France’s highest administrative court rejected an effort to restart the Ligue 1 season but ruled that Amiens and Toulouse should be spared relegation.
Lyon, who finished seventh in a final table on a points-per-game basis and thus missed out on European qualification, had joined Amiens and Toulouse in launching legal action.
In April, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe put a blanket ban on all sport until September but collective sports can now resume from today – too late, however, for the league season which will infuriate opponents of the cancellation.
And even more than 5,000 fans could be allowed into stadiums later in the summer pending a further review, with the new French season due to start on the weekend of August 22.
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