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24 May, 2020 15:35

'STUPID': Lyon boss slams decision to cancel French football season early as other big leagues return

'STUPID': Lyon boss slams decision to cancel French football season early as other big leagues return

Olympique Lyonnais Président Jean-Michel Aulas has hit out at the decision to abandon the unfinished Ligue 1 season when other major leagues around Europe are resuming after coronavirus-enforced breaks.

Lyon were outside the top six when the French season was called off at the end of April, meaning they missed out on a place in European competition as the final table was based on existing standings. 

As the German Bundesliga enters a second round of matches since resuming after the coronavirus lockdown, the Spanish La Liga prepares to begin from June 12 and the English Premier League also gears up for a restart around the same time, France will have no football whatsoever until a new season starts later this year.

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That has angered Aulas, who feels the decision made by the French league, in consultation with UEFA, to cancel the unfinished season with the teams in their final places was taken too hastily.

Lyon ended up being awarded seventh and missing out on a place in European competition next year, although he stresses this has no bearing on his frustration.

Aulas’ annoyance came to a head after the Spanish league decided to reconvene, especially after La Liga’s President Javier Tebas attended the same discussions with UEFA as his French counterpart.

“In the past two months, the Spanish officials have been observing and working with UEFA,” Aulas told L’Equipe.

“What is paradoxical is that Javier Tebas, in particular, attended the same meetings (as French League director-general) Didier Quillot, notably that of April 23.”

Aulas felt that some time should have been taken before canceling the French season too hastily with 10 games to go.

“In fact, what was said at that meeting with UEFA is ‘patience’. When we see that our officials attended this meeting and drew different conclusions, one can feel that we are really too stupid,” he raged. 

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Lyon had an appeal against the decision rejected by a tribunal and remained in seventh spot, denying them a chance to compete to get into the Champions League next year.

But Aulas was at pains to say that had they been in the top four his feelings would have been the same, proclaiming: “I swear I would have, I swear on my children’s lives.”

Lyon are still in this season's Champions League, however, and will take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their last 16 tie with Italian giants Juventus, should the competition resume as planned in August.  

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