PM Philippe pulls the plug on French Ligue 1 season

Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick in Paris Saint Germain's 5-1 victory over Lyon for a place in the Coupe de France final which may never be played. after PM Edouard Philippe's announcement in the National Assembly

The French Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons will not resume after France banned all sporting events, including behind closed doors, until September.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the 2019-20 sporting season was over as he announced plans to ease France’s coronavirus lockdown on 11 May.

In a speech to the National Assembly on Tuesday, Philippe said he would not sanction the return of the sport, even behind closed doors, due to the risk of a second outbreak of Covid-19. “The big sporting affairs cannot occur before September,” he said. “The 2019/20 professional football season cannot return.”

French football’s governing body had hoped to resume the season on 17 June, possibly with the League Cup and Coupe de France finals as a prelude, and finish the campaign on 25 July. Football was suspended indefinitely in France on 13 March.

Defending champions Paris Saint Germain are 12 points clear of Marseille at the top of Ligue 1, with 10 rounds of matches and one outstanding fixture left to play.

Toulouse are bottom of the table, 17 points from safety, and 10 points behind Amiens. Nimes are 18th and in the relegation play-off spot, three points behind St Etienne in 17th.

The top five sides in Ligue 2 are separated by just four points, with Lorient and Lens currently occupying the automatic promotion spots.

The French Professional Football League (LFP) will now meet to determine the best way to end the season, with debates around promotion, relegation, and European qualification to dominate the agenda.

Meanwhile,  European leagues have until 25 May to tell UEFA whether they want to complete or cancel their seasons.

Football is suspended in all European countries apart from Belarus because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The English Premier League (EPL) has this week stepped up its plans to resume the season in what has been labelled “Project Restart”.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Brighton and West Ham have opened their training grounds to players for individual work.

The Premier League league is hopeful of a potential 8 June restart and finishing at the end of July to fit in with UEFA’s European competition plans. This would require full training to begin by 18 May.

Top-flight clubs will meet on Friday to discuss options for the restart.

UK Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said he had been in contact with clubs about restarting the Premier League “as soon as possible”.

Professional Footballers’ Association deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes said: “We have been assured of the intentions of all that there would be no resumption unless guarantees of safety could be given to the players.

“The overriding principle for all parties is the health and safety of all participants on and off the field, and of course the wider public.”

The Scottish Premiership is suspended indefinitely and the season could yet be declared over, a move already taken with the second, third and fourth tiers north of the border.

The deadline set by UEFA is referred to in a set of guidelines on ‘eligibility principles’ for European competitions that the governing body’s president and general secretary have sent out to football bodies.