Hostile response after Aulas urges scrubbing France's Ligue 1 season

Premier League soccer ball (Getty Images)
Premier League soccer ball (Getty Images)

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas on Saturday repeated his belief that the French football season should be scrubbed out because of coronavirus, a position critics implied was self-serving.

"The most logical thing would be to say: we'll cancel everything and go back to the situation at the start of the season," Aulas told French newspaper Le Monde in an interview published on Friday.

On Saturday, Aulas tweeted that "Karren Brady, vice-chairman of West Ham, foresees that the Premier League will be cancelled."

He added a tag to French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu and said "all countries are affected by this pandemic and must provide an answer".

In his Le Monde interview, Aulas called for a "blank season", with no title at the end.

Lyon's great rivals Paris Saint-Germain are on course for another title. They are 12 points ahead of second-placed Marseille.

There would be no relegation, said Aulas, who represents Ligue 1 clubs on the French league (LFP) committee and is a member of the French Football Federation (FFF) executive committee, to prevent "those at the bottom of the table" taking legal action.

"The only way to avoid legal challenges is for the competitions to run to completion," Didier Quillot, the LFP chief executive told French sports daily L'Equipe's website on Saturday, mentioning the commitments made to broadcasters.

Aulas also said the Champions League places should be "allocated to the same clubs as last season".

After finishing third last season, Lyon are struggling in seventh place, 10 points off a Champions League place.

"Is he being serious?" tweeted one of Marseille's stars, former West Ham forward Dimitri Payet, suggesting that Aulas should have his temperature taken.

"We know the obsessive will of Jean-Michel Aulas to defend OL by all means. But this time it's a bit too obvious," Marseille president Jacques-Henri Eyraud wrote in a column for the Journal du Dimanche (JDD).

"Is it really loving and respecting football when, without the slightest consultation, we suggest ignoring the 28 matches already played?"

"When the fever drops, Jean-Michel Aulas will see the obscenity of his opportunistic proposal," he added.

Nathalie Boy de la Tour, president of the LFP, which includes Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, was not happy with Aulas's media outings.

"Football is about solidarity between the 40 clubs and all those involved in the game. He is only speaking for himself," she told BeIN Sports on Saturday.

Apart from Lyon, all the other Ligue 1 clubs have said they want to finish the season.

"We might finish a little later but that's not a problem for me. If we finish the championship, it will be the same teams, so 'fair play' will be respected," said Strasbourg coach Thierry Laurey, adding: "If we cancel, how will you do it for Europe (qualification)?"

A relegation-free season would save the bottom two, Toulouse and Amiens and potentially Nimes, who are in 18th and would face a relegation playoff.

Even so, Nimes coach Bernard Blaquart rejected the Aulas solution.

"We couldn't be happy with such a decision," Blaquart said. "It's inconceivable even if Nimes, as things stand, would benefit.

"If UEFA decides to postpone Euro 2020 to this autumn or next year, we could envisage finishing the championship at the end of June," he said, adding that "going beyond that seems almost impossible, especially as... player contracts end on 30 June."

"The immediate problem is to contain and manage the epidemic," he said.

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