France’s Super-Tax: the conflict between taxation and elite football

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On his return to action on The False Nine, Huw Evans dips back into the political landscape of France and its effect on Ligue 1’s fortunes…

In October I wrote about the upturn in fortunes of French football, but now political change looks set to halt that progress.

There’s an air of disappointment in French politics currently with an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction lingering across the channel.

It’s easy to see how the French have lost their patience with Francois Hollande. The President was voted in on the back of an Obama-esque ticket, promising change and revolution. He wasn’t lying per se; he just hasn’t performed enough miracles to justify the shifts in policy he has brought about.

Some now vilify Hollande. The crowd booed him on Remembrance Day as he was laying the wreath. Sacre bleu! A level of abuse previously unheard of!

Yet I’m sure that many of those involved in French football’s top two tiers may well have shared the heckling crowd’s feelings. Continue reading

A Ligue 1 XI – the Best of the Rest

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In his first piece for TFN, Valentin Boulan selects a Ligue XI – minus the Big 2 of PSG and Monaco…

Following the recent emergence of PSG and Monaco as big players in European football, the French Ligue 1 has received a lot more attention from abroad, both from players and fans. With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Radamel Falcao now playing in a league whose best striker until recently was the agonizingly average Moussa Saw, Ligue 1 has experienced a huge qualitative boost.

However, this has not prevented the mass migration of many talented players (Patrick Aubameyang, Eden Hazard, Loic Remy, Mathieu Debuchy and Lisandro Lopez to name a few).  As a result, the divide between the “Big 2” and the rest is evident, and with Monaco only just promoted this season, this process is unlikely to reverse in the near future. Continue reading

Ligue 1: No Longer A French Backwater for Major European Football

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Making his TFN debut, Huw Evans assesses the improving fortunes of domestic football in France…

Most football fans around the UK will know a little bit about France’s Ligue 1.  Indeed most fans will recognize the top clubs from their Wednesday and Thursday nights’ European football viewings on ITV; Olympique Lyonnais, Olympique de Marseille, Paris St Germain, LOSC Lille, but that’s about as far as it goes for most.  Indeed some of us have had the fortune (or misfortune depending on how much time you’ve dedicated to it) to experience the Football Manager series.  As a result one can reel off endless pointless facts relating to the supposed wonderkids of France’s clubs.

I lived in France for a year and had quite a varying experience of French league football.  At the bottom end, the elation of FCO Dijon’s 2010-11 Ligue 2 promotion campaign and Clermont Foot 63’s 2011-12 so close yet so far Ligue 2 title-challenge. At the other end, the heady heights of Stade de Gerland where Les Gones (Olympique Lyonnais) turn out.  My weekend afternoons on the terraces have nurtured a keen interest in French football, at all levels, and a respect for its most prodigious talents.  Continue reading

Paris Saint-Germain: Wenger the wanted man as PSG draw Blancs

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Hugo Greenhalgh believes that PSG’s most recent managerial appointment is proof they have some way to go before they can dine out with Europe’s football elite…

The second half of last season was defined to a certain degree by a series of well-publicised open secrets that quickly unravelled to become common knowledge. Jose Mourinho would be leaving Real Madrid and his position would be taken by PSG manager Carlo Ancelotti. Roberto Mancini was to be shown the door at Manchester City and replaced by Manuel Pellegrini. A managerial merry-go-round of sorts was about to be set in motion. Continue reading

“A coat, a coat, my kingdom for a coat!” Reviewing the Ligue 1 Season

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With the French top-flight set to dominate the headlines this summer, French Football Weekly‘s Chris Luxford-Noyes reviews the Ligue 1 season…

It’s the day after the night before. We now know the winners and losers in this season’s race for glory in Ligue 1.

As forecasted by many pundits, PSG came out top dogs with 83 points, 12 ahead of 2nd placed Olympique Marseille. PSG didn’t have it all their own way thankfully, as the occasional draw here and there, along with a handful of losses – most notably away to Sochaux and Reims – ensured that the title race was kept fairly interesting for those fighting it out at the top. Their slip ups over the course of the season offered up a few small but regular morsels of hope to the chasing pack behind them (and the more casual, neutral observers tuning in to watch).

In the end they achieved exactly what they had expected of themselves, securing a league title and another tilt at the Champions League next season, albeit possibly without Carlo Ancellotti at the helm and question marks over Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future in Paris.

OM finished runners-up, and although they hadn’t exactly been written off back in August they certainly weren’t expected to do as well as they have done. Early season wobbles had many questioning their resolve. Second behind PSG and a Champions League place? They would have snapped such an offer out of anyone’s hand at the beginning of the season, then again, so would’ve most teams. Since succeeding Didier Deschamps last summer, Elie Baup has done well with the team, guided them into the Champions League, and will likely be rewarded with a contract extension thought to already be in the offing. Rumour has is that Joey Barton has been offered the chance to become a permanent fixture in Marseille, with a 3-year deal on the table if he wants it. With a return to relegated QPR  now even less appealing for the controversial Englishmen it makes sense for him to stay. Barton is enjoying his time at OM and recently told the press, ‘for the first time in my life, I’m very happy, really content’. Continue reading

The Full Monty: A Lesson in Fan Harmony

False Nine editor Hugo Greenhalgh pays tribute to Montpellier and their supporters…

Great achievements in football often become more incredible once the dust is allowed to settle. There were several feats around Europe last season that will no doubt be looked back on as a great year for the sport. Continue reading