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Thursday, April 5, 2012
French league considers change

France's falling standing in European club football has prompted a period of soul-searching by the country's football league, the Ligue de Football Professionel.

• Bayern Munich 2-0 Marseille

Marseille's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich confirmed that France will drop to sixth place in next season's UEFA coefficients, having been overtaken by Portugal due to Benfica's progress to the quarter-finals and their nation's consistently strong Europa League performances.

The net effect is that Ligue 1's third-placed team will enter the Champions League at the third qualifying round rather than the play-off round, and LFP president Frederic Thiriez told L'Equipe: "We need to collectively examine our conscience and the priority we give to European competition.

"The whole of French football must look at the format of our competitions; 18 or 20 (teams in Ligue 1), the number of teams promoted or relegated, the distribution of rights and the solidarity with the amateur game and Ligue 2."

Reform of the top flight would have the support of Rennes general manager Pierre Dreossi, who said: "A 20-team championship does not allow enough recovery time."

But Lille coach Rudi Garcia - whose side currently occupy third place, four points behind leading pair Montpellier and Paris St Germain and six clear of their pursuers - believes proposed changes to the weekend fixture schedule will aid teams involved in continental competition.

He told L'Equipe: "What will be better next season is that, with the new splitting of fixtures in the championship, spread from Friday to Sunday, that will help avoid clubs playing three days before and three days after a European game."

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