If nothing has been finalized yet and the exchanges continue, particularly this weekend during a college of league and district presidents and club representatives in Paris, the national football championships are heading for a restructuring, according to the FFF’s executive committee minutes of March 22. Consequence of the future passage of Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 to 18 clubs but also of the desire to raise the level in National 2, National 3 and among women.
It has been official for several months now: Ligue 1 (end of 2022-2023 season) and Ligue 2 (end of 2023-2024 season) will go from 20 to 18 clubs. If the National has to keep 18 teams, the championship is automatically boosted by professional teams. This will have de facto consequences for the character of National 2 and National 3.
Behind the math lies mainly the political will for a tightening of the pyramid and a reduction of the number of clubs at national level in order to raise the level of play, which has fallen sharply in recent years. Too many teams, too many chickens, too many inequalities and “a very inadequate level of play,” according to the FFF, which lists other structural and financial abuses: “Professional clubs’ dissatisfaction with their reserve, problem of consistency between leagues over management, lack of community subsidies to amateur clubs for a regional competition, high financing costs for the FFF…”
The FFF Comex plans to reduce the number of National 2 pools, moving to three groups of 16 teams instead of the current four. Or 64 teams against 48 today.
Under the lap of the regional leagues, at the end of the 2017-2018 season, the N3 should once again become a true federal championship managed by the FFF, as it was before the CFA2. It is the number of groups that is currently being debated. Two formulas are proposed: eight groups of 14 teams or six groups of 16 teams, compared to twelve of 14 teams today.
Speaking of numbers, today there are 169 N3 teams. In the case of eight groups of 14 teams, we would go to 112 formations. In the case of six pools of 16 teams, there would be only 96. In addition, this reduction in the number of teams would lead to a return to N3’s pools with teams from different competitions.
In fact, a significant number of clubs would be automatically relegated to regional level. To swallow them, creating a separation between the current N3 and the R1, a kind of “R1 Elite”, is under discussion. However, according to our information, this format does not currently have the majority of votes. In any case, the regional championships will also have to adapt and lighten. An increase from fourteen to twelve R3 groups was already planned for the 2023-2024 season.
As for the women’s championships, two changes could be made. The first concerns the D2 for women, which should turn into a single group of 12 teams, while today it is divided into two groups.
The second would be the creation of a third level (two groups of 12 teams). This level would also be intended to accommodate, “according to the terms and criteria for entry to be determined”, the reserve teams of D1 Arkema clubs, the Comex said.
For several days, consultations have been in full swing with clubs, districts and leagues. According to our information, there would be a general consensus on the reform project. However, the level, timing and deadlines have yet to be agreed upon, which will be discussed this weekend during the college (of league and district presidents and club representatives), at FFF headquarters.
All these measures will then have to be adopted and formalized by the Comex at the general meeting of the FFF on 17 and 18 June 2022 in Nice.
For now, the adopted principle is that the reform should be in full effect by the end of the 2024-2025 season. Obviously, several seasons of implementation would be required beforehand. Normally, the smoothing would be done over three exercises. From the end of next season there will be some relegations related to additional cuts from Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, and perhaps the start of cuts for N2 teams, which according to our information is yet to be discussed. Then during the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 seasons. However, we remind you that this schedule may change in the coming days…