Even as the pursuers have grown stronger, it’s hard to see who can rival the Paris armada. But the season nevertheless promises to be eventful with a big cut for the World Cup and 4 relegations.
Worn by his star Kylian Mbappe, who has remained loyal to L1, PSG promises to become the firm favorite for the championship, which starts Friday. A season that promises to be spectacular, with clubs revived by money from new shareholder CVC, but also a lot of turmoil with four relegations.
Closed-door stadiums, matches postponed, broadcaster failing, legal proceedings in ruins, incidents in the stands, finances at half-mast, disappointments in European Cups… The scars of past seasons remind us that the clouds are never far above League 1.
But is the thinning finally coming closer after three years of crisis? French football dreams aloud: the 2022-23 season must be that of the “revolution”, according to Vincent Labrune, the boss of the Professional Football League (LFP).
Every revolution needs a leader. And the L1 has one, more powerful than ever, the insatiable Paris Saint-Germain.
Already hyperactive in the summer transfer window (nearly 100 million euros invested for August), the reigning French champion is aiming for an 11th title, an absolute record for the 10 championships of the illustrious Saint-Etienne, unfortunately relegated in Ligue 2 like Bordeaux, a another big name.
In complete overhaul, the Qatar-owned club has given a more French-speaking accent to its professional group, with coach Christophe Galtier and especially the extension of Mbappé until 2025, a masterstroke that was executed under the nose and beard of the Spanish juggernaut , Real Madrid, one of PSG’s main European rivals.
“To make the Ligue 1 soap even more exciting, we need big stars. Kylian Mbappé is a superstar,” Labrune assured at the end of May about the 23-year-old prodigy.
Who will be able to compete nationally with Paris and his Messi-Neymar-Mbappé trio? Last year no one succeeded and the gap still seems huge.
The race for Europe seems to be very close. Olympique de Marseille, last year’s runner-up, remains a serious candidate, even as internal turmoil catches up with the sudden departure of coach Jorge Sampaoli, unhappy with OM’s financial ambitions and his replacement by the criticized Croat Igor Tudor.
On the other hand, Lyon regained color with the arrival of the American billionaire John Textor, future main shareholder at 600 million euros… Ambitious but devoid of Europe, the club of Jean-Michel Aulas, still in office, will take revenge. Like coach Peter Bosz and former glories Alexandre Lacazette and Corentin Tolisso, repatriated to the Rhone.
What about Nice and its Ineos project, which promises a budget in line with European objectives? From Monaco, always eager for good moves in the transfer window and whose career has impressed since January? From Rennes, more and more regularly led by Bruno Genesio? Even Lille, surprise champion in 2021 who could play the spoilsport? Even Lens and Strasbourg, so attractive in recent months, have their cards to play!
With only two direct seats for the C1, the battle promises to be fierce, much to the delight of main channel Amazon Prime Video. The platform is launching its second season after reclaiming 80% of its discounted lots last year, not without exceeding Canal+, the historic channel that still reluctantly hosts two matches a day.
The TV rights file is still falling behind this season, far behind the arrival at 1.5 billion euros from the CVC investment fund, shareholder of the new commercial subsidiary of the LFP to 13%.
However, the TV rights file is falling behind this season, well behind the arrival at 1.5 billion euros from the investment fund CVC, shareholder of the new commercial subsidiary of the LFP to 13%. The highly anticipated deal will allow for welcome payments to clubs, with each team considering a minimum of €33 million over three years, up to €200 million promised to PSG… The windfall should be used for infrastructure, training and development projects as well as in the transfer window. Not to mention safety, a big black spot in the past fiscal year, marked by overflows in the stands in many stadiums.
The new money will be good for second-tier clubs such as newly promoted Toulouse, Ajaccio and Auxerre as they start a season where all concerns are eased. Indeed, Ligue 1 will grow to 18 clubs next year and four teams will descend to the second division, against just two climbs.
A schedule almost as disrupted as the calendar: An unusual 45-day truce is slated for November, requires the World Cup.
By then, French football will have already begun its transformation…