French set dates for delayed cup finals and for next league season

PARIS (AFP) – French football’s governing bodies on Friday confirmed the dates of this season’s two cup finals and of the kick off of next season’s league campaign.

The French Football Federation general assembly ratified the cup final dates and also adopted the decision by the French football league (LFP) to stick with 20 clubs in the top division next season.

Clubs relegated, or denied promotion, after the early end to the French league season had argued for an increase in Ligue 1 to 22 teams.

The FFF decisions allowed the LFP to respond by releasing its 2020-21 calendar later in the day.

“The French Cup final will be held on July 24 and the League Cup final on July 31,” FFF president Noel Le Graet told the assembly, making official dates that had already been widely known.

The French Cup final between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Saint-Etienne will be the first official football match in France since the coronavirus pandemic stopped play.

Ligue 1 champions PSG will also play in the League Cup final a week later, facing Lyon.

The relatively late cup final dates mean the following league season must start later.

Where last season began on August 9, the LFP announced that next season will start on the weekend of August 22 and end on May 23, 2021.

That leaves only a three-week break for PSG and Lyon during which both clubs will resume their Champions League campaigns.

Lyon still need to play a round-of-16 second-leg tie against Juventus. If they advance they will join PSG in Lisbon for a knockout last eight which starts on August 12 and ends on August 20.

French football will also have a shorter-than-usual winter break running only from December 23-January 6, with the French Cup scheduled.

Looking forward to the cup finals, Le Graet said he was hoping the government would increase the attendance cap at the Stade France.

The government has set a limit of 5,000 for stadiums, which reopen on July 11. The Stade de France has a capacity of more than 81,000.

“Five thousand people at the Stade de France, it’s true that it’s a bit short,” he told reporters on Friday. “I’d love to get it up to 30 per cent, but I won’t make a crisis out of it if we don’t get it.”

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu hinted on Thursday that Le Graet could potentially get his wish, depending on the virus situation in France.

“For the time being, we are sticking to the 5,000-person limit because it does not only concern sport but also large cultural gatherings in public spaces,” she said.

“There’s a review on July 11 so we’ll see what happens according to the epidemic curve in France.”