Ligue 1 is set to undergo a major change to the system which will see the number of teams reduced from 20 to 18, as reported by French outlet L’Equipe.
The French league currently holds 20 teams. The top two automatically qualify for the Champions League, while third place goes into the qualifiers.
Fourth and fifth qualify directly for the Europa League, and sixth goes into the new Europa Conference League.
Meanwhile, down at the bottom, the two lowest placed sides get relegated to Ligue 2, and the team in 18th plays a two-legged relegation play-off game with the team who won the play-offs from the second tier.
However, the system is about to change, with L’Equipe reporting that the league will be reduced to 18 teams from the beginning of the 2023/24 season. In the year before, there will be four teams relegated from the top flight.
This is a return to the former structure of the league, which used to be 18 teams up until 2002. It is believed that Metz are the only club who opposed the idea.
The overhaul comes at a time of financial difficulty for Ligue 1. The COVID-19 pandemic is still taking a heavy toll on clubs’ revenue, with games still being played behind closed doors.
Meanwhile, the failed €3.25 billion TV deal with Mediapro has also had a serious impact.
Ligue 1 will not be the only major league comprised of 18 teams. The Bundesliga is the most high-profile 18-team division, while the Eredivisie and Liga NOS are also made up of 18 clubs.
For now, Ligue 2 is expected to remain as it is. However, there may be discussions to also reduce it to 18.