The decision of the Football League to freeze the classification should lead to appeals from clubs which feel aggrieved by such an outcome. They have the right even if the position of the authorities (FFF, LFP) appears to be protected in several respects.
After the rumble of amateur clubs, the French Football Federation is preparing to undergo, with the Professional Football League (LFP), those of professional clubs. The end of the championship and the decision to activate the classification according to the quotient at the 28th day of Ligue 1 will inevitably make people dissatisfied with levers to ask for redress. Several lower level clubs have already done so. And they are in their strictest right
Interim judge, CNOSF, administrative court
“We can’t stop clubs from attacking and they will certainly attack,” said Tatiana Vassine, a lawyer with RMS Avocats, who specializes in sports law. This could materialize in several ways with, for starters, the possibility of applying to the administrative court for interim measures of suspension in parallel with a request for cancellation, to obtain the suspension of the decision of the League. The judge will then have to rule on the urgency or not of the request.
In sports law, the classic path of procedure first leads to an attempt at compulsory conciliation with the CNOSF (French National Olympic and Sports Committee), already used by more than fifty amateur clubs. If this does not succeed, the clubs will be able to seize the administrative court and it is the judge who will decide. “The focus of the debate will be on sports equity,” predicts Gautier Kertudo, also a sports lawyer.
Government support for the authorities
What would the Federation and the League be exposed to? “They would risk having their decisions overturned,” said Tatiana Vassine. Such a scenario could then cause a new puzzle with the need to make a new decision. But especially because of the judicial time which could be longer than the sporting time. “We could then find ourselves in a partially executed decision, adds the lawyer. If the championship resumed with a configuration different from that established, we would end up with teams that were ultimately not eligible. We could end up with a cancellation of the championship a posteriori during the season. This risk is almost nonexistent since there are several elements which go in the direction of the sports authorities. “
Indeed, if clubs have the right and the means to act, their room for maneuver appears limited. First, the authorities took this decision in response to an exceptional situation. Second, they have the support of the government, which is working on a bill to “secure the legal principle of regulatory changes”. With one objective: to protect the decision taken by sports bodies.
This will not prevent the clubs from appealing, but the authorities would benefit from this very strong support to consolidate their positions before a judge. Another advantage in their favor, “the magistrates, in sporting matter, do not return in the appreciation of all that is of a technical nature”, explains Tatiana Vassine. “We can expect that the magistrate, in this particular context, refuses to enter into technical-sporting considerations which eludes him and rather goes in the direction of a validation of the decisions which are taken by sports authorities.”
“The argument for clubs will be complex to assemble”
“It’s always difficult to predict what the judges will say but with a decision from the ministry and exceptional circumstances, the argument for the clubs will be complex to assemble even if, as a lawyer, we can always demonstrate everything “, underlines Gautier Kertudo.
The legal battle looks imbalanced even if the clubs will have arguments to argue about the fairness of the decision. “The judges will have an appreciation on the proportion of the measure, details the lawyer. He will ask if other decisions could have been made. Was this scenario the best?” Jean-Michel Aulas, and his play-offs, or Gerard Lopez, with his simulation of the end of the season, could argue that there were other alternatives if they challenged the decision to freeze the ranking. Their field of action would not be very wide but they will be able to be heard.