French club Luzenac AP to join Ligue 2 as 21st club

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Ligue 2 is about to get a whole lot more confusing. The French second division, which generally operates with 20 teams, will find itself with an extra competitor this season after a French court overruled the French Football Federation’s decision to bar Luzenac AP from playing in the 2014-15 season. The club was prohibited from competing in Ligue 2 by the league’s financial regulator, who essentially argued that if the team were promoted to a higher division, it could risk destroying itself. As a result of the court’s recent decision, the tiny club will now get a chance to compete in Ligue 2, despite the fact that the competition kicked off last weekend.

The town (more aptly described as a village) of Luzenac sits high in the Pyrenees Mountains of southwestern France, and boasts a total population of roughly 650 people. Only five years ago, the club was an amateur side playing in its home ground of Stade Paul Fedou, which has a capacity of 400 seats. However, in 2009, Luzenac AP secured promotion to the Championnat de France National (the country’s third tier league), and its local facilities were deemed unsuitable for the higher standard of competition. So, the club elected to play its home games in the nearby town of Foix at the aptly named Stade du Foix, a 3,000 seat venue that was renovated in 2012 to make it more suitable for the rigors of the 3rd Division.

Last season, Luzenac AP pulled off a miracle when the club finished 2nd in its division, automatically qualifying for Ligue 2. As noted in an excellent article by The Guardian on the lead-up to the court’s decision, “Luzenac had made arrangements to play their home games this season in Toulouse, some 80 miles away. It has been suggested that concerns over the club’s ability to pay the rent for that on an on-going basis was one of the chief factors in the DNCG’s decision to refuse admission.”

On Thursday, a French judge ruled that the move to prevent Luzenac AP from competing in Ligue 2 was illegal, and cleared the way for the team to compete in the coming season. The main problem? The competition kicked off last weekend, with a replacement team already having been promoted from the third division in Luzenac’s place. Thus, the league will now have to scramble to schedule 38 additional fixtures, half of which will require a long commute for many of the teams in Ligue 2. With that in mind, even though it’s unlikely/not allowed under FFF laws, I dream of a day when the PSG juggernaut has to play an away game in a 400 seat stadium located on the side of a mountain range. Come on, Luzenac AP, earn that final promotion!

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