Ligue 1 Betting: Winners and losers from decision to conclude season

Brazil and PSG attacker Neymar
With the league title secured Neymar and PSG's thoughts will turn to the Champions League
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PSG can think about continental glory while Lyon and Amiens are left to lick their wounds, writes James Eastham...

"When the action came to a close Neymar seemed more committed to PSG than he had been at any other point during his three years in the French capital."

The decision taken in France last week to call a halt to the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons without playing the remaining games caught some by surprise, but not those following the situation over the previous fortnight. The prevailing winds suggested that the government was going to overrule the will of the top-flight clubs, most of whom supported the proposal to return to action on June 17.

The fall-out from the verdict, however, may be only just beginning. The LFP - the body that governs France's two fully professional divisions - decided the final standings on a points-per-game basis across the 28 matchdays that had been played. As you might imagine, the ruling didn't go down well with everybody.

The winners

The most literal winners were PSG. Twelve points clear when the season was halted, they were awarded their seventh title in eight seasons. Will this latest success plus the fact that no more games will be played improve their chances of retaining Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, supposedly summer transfer targets for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively?

When the action came to a close Neymar seemed more committed to PSG than he had been at any other point during his three years in the French capital. As for Mbappe, the interruption to the season and the subsequent negative impact on revenues mean the time and resources to put together a package to move Mbappe to Spain may be lacking. There's also the matter of the Champions League: PSG are in the last eight and, if the competition resumes, this could also have a bearing on the star duo's futures.

Marseille are now officially runners-up, with immense credit going to manager Andre Villas-Boas for the job he's done on a meagre budget. L'OM's participation in the Champions League next season improves his chances of retaining his better players, notably Florian Thauvin, although Marseille will struggle to strengthen significantly over the summer.

Completing the podium, Rennes have made it into the Champions League for the first time, with the preliminary rounds awaiting them in late summer. Ten-goal top scorer M'Baye Niang is a target for richer clubs abroad but may be tempted to stay put in order to experience Europe's premier competition with the Bretons.

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The losers

Lille were in fourth place when the season stopped and their run of six wins in their final seven outings suggested they were in good shape to overhaul Rennes, just one point ahead of them. So far they've been magnanimous, accepting the league's verdict even though it denies them a Champions League place. Lille were expected to sell two or three players this summer anyway, with star performers such as 13-goal top scorer Victor Osimhen, France U21 midfielder Boubakary Soumare - a £40 million target for Newcastle United in January - and £25 million-rated attacker Jonathan Ikone on the wanted list of bigger clubs abroad.

Lyon are arguably the biggest losers of all. Seventh in the final standings, they risk missing out on European football for the first time since 1997. There's still a chance they can qualify for continental competition: this depends on France playing its domestic cup finals ahead of the start of the 2020-21 season, and then on the outcome of those games (more below). Never shy at coming forward, president Jean-Michel Aulas, pictured above, is already talking about exploring legal avenues, however, as he openly questions the league's decision-making process.

Amiens may join Aulas in his quest. They have been relegated as they were in 19th place, four points behind 18th-placed Nimes. Like Lyon, Amiens disagree with the way in which the league made its decisions. Independent legal experts suggest attempts to overrule the league's verdict stand little chance of succeeding, but that's unlikely to stop the parties feeling wronged pressing ahead with their claims.

What happens next

The one issue on which everyone agrees is that the 2019-20 season is completed. The government has suggested that the 2020-21 season will kick off in September at the earliest. French FA president Noel Le Graet would like it to start in August behind closed doors instead. Negotiations over the start date will take place in the coming weeks.

We may see the 2019-20 domestic cup finals - PSG vs Lyon in the League Cup final, and PSG vs St Etienne in the French Cup final - played as curtain-raisers. After that, it should be back to league business as usual.

James Eastham,

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