1932–1933 (as National)
1933–2002 (as Division 1)
|Number of teams||20|
|Levels on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||Ligue 2|
|Domestic cup(s)||Coupe de France
Trophée des Champions
|League cup(s)||Coupe de la Ligue|
|International cup(s)||UEFA Champions League
UEFA Europa League
|Current champions||Paris Saint-Germain (3rd title)
|Most championships||Saint-Étienne (10 titles)|
|TV partners||Canal+ and beIN Sport|
|2012–13 Ligue 1|
Ligue 1 (French pronunciation: [liɡ œ̃]; League 1, formerly known as Division 1 and sometimes referred to as Le Championnat), is the French professional league for association football clubs. It is the country's primary football competition and serves as the top division of the French football league system. Ligue 1 is one of two divisions making up the Ligue de Football Professionnel, the other being Ligue 2. Contested by 20 clubs, it operates on a system of promotion and relegation with Ligue 2. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each totaling 380 games in the season. Most games are played on Saturdays and Sundays, with a few games played during weekday evenings. Play is regularly suspended the last weekend before Christmas for two weeks before returning in the second week of January. Ligue 1 is one of the top national leagues, currently ranked sixth in Europe behind the Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Italian Serie A and the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Ligue 1 was inaugurated on 11 September 1932 under the name National before switching to Division 1 after a year of existence. The name lasted until 2002 before switching to its current name. The current champions are Paris Saint-Germain, who won the third title of their history in the 2012–13 season.
Ligue 1 is generally regarded as competently run, with good planning of fixtures, complete and consistently enforced rules, timely resolution of issues, and adequate escalation procedures of judicial disputes to national or international institutions. The league has faced three significant corruption scandals in its history (Antibes in 1933, Red Star in the 1950s, and Marseille in 1993) and has preserved its reputation every time through swift and appropriately severe punishment of the guilty parties.
Prior to 1930, professionalism in French football was non-existent. In July 1930, the National Council of the French Football Federation voted 128–20 in support of professionalism in French football. The founding fathers of professionalism in French football are Georges Bayrou, Emmanuel Gambardella, and Gabriel Hanot. Professionalism was officially implemented in 1932.
In order to successfully create a professional football league in the country, the Federation limited the league to twenty clubs. In order to participate in the competition, clubs were subjected to three important criteria:
- The incoming club must have had positive results in the past.
- The incoming club must be able to pull in enough revenue to balance its finances.
- The incoming club must be able to successfully recruit at least eight professional players.
Many clubs disagreed with the subjective criteria, most notably Strasbourg, RC Roubaix, Amiens SC, and Stade Français, while others like Rennes and Olympique Lillois were reluctant to become professional due to a variety of reasons, mostly due to fear of bankruptcy with Rennes and a conflict of interest with the latter club, as the team's president Henri Jooris also served as chairman of the Ligue du Nord. Jooris feared his league would fold and proposed it become the second division of the new league. Eventually, many clubs earned professional status, though it became more difficult to convince Northern clubs with Strasbourg, RC Roubaix, and Amiens still refusing to accept the new league, though Mulhouse, Excelsior AC Roubaix, Metz, and Fives accepted professionalism. On the other side, clubs in the south of France such as Olympique de Marseille, Hyères, SO Montpellier, SC Nîmes, Cannes, Antibes, and Nice were extremely supportive of the new league and accepted their professional status without argument.
|1935–36||Racing Club de France|
The league's inaugural season of the all-professional league, called National, was held in 1932–1933. The 20 inaugural members of National were Antibes, CA Paris, Cannes, Club Français, Excelsior AC Roubaix, Fives, Hyères, Marseille, Metz, Mulhouse, Nice, Nîmes, Olympique Alès, Olympique Lillois, Racing Club de France, Red Star Olympique, Rennes, Sochaux, Sète, and SO Montpellier. The 20 clubs were inserted into two groups of 10 with the bottom three of each group suffering relegation to Division 2. The two winners of each group would then face each other in a final held at a neutral venue, which later turned out to the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir. The first final was held on 14 May 1933 and it matched the winner of Group A, Olympique Lillois, against the runner-up of Group B, Cannes. Antibes, the winner of Group B, was supposed to take part in the final but was suspected of bribery by the French Football Federation and was forced into disqualification. In the first final, Lillois were crowned the inaugural champions following the club's 4–3 victory. After the season, the league decided to retain the 14 clubs and not promote any sides from the second division. The league also agreed to change its name from National to simply Division 1. For the 1934–35 season, the league organized a legitimate promotion and relegation system bringing the total tally of clubs in the first division to 16. The number remained until the 1938–39 season.
Because of World War II, football was suspended by the French government and the Ligue de Football Professionnel, although its member clubs continued playing in regional competitions. During the "war championships", as they are called, professionalism was abolished by the Vichy regime and clubs were forced to participate in regional leagues, designated as Zone Sud and Zone Nord. Due to its non-association with the two leagues, the LFP and FFF do not recognize the championships won by the clubs and thus 1939–1945 is non-existent in the two organizations view. Following the conclusion of the war and the liberation of France, professional football returned to France. The first division increased its allotment of clubs to 18. This number remained until the 1965–66 season when the number was increased to 20. In 2002, the league changed its name from Division 1 to Ligue 1.
Competition format 
There are 20 clubs in Ligue 1. During the course of a season, usually from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games, though special circumstances may allow a club to host matches at other venues such as when Lille hosted Lyon at the Stade de France in 2007 and 2008. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The three lowest placed teams are relegated to Ligue 2 and the top three teams from Ligue 2 are promoted in their place.
Previously, the league utilized a different promotion and relegation format. Prior to 1995, the league's format was direct relegation of the bottom two teams and a play-off between the third-last first-division team and the winner of the second-division play-offs, similar to the Dutch Eredivisie, and the German Fußball-Bundesliga. The league has also experimented with a "bonus" rule. From 1973 to 1976, a rule rewarded teams scoring three or more goals in a game with one extra point, regardless of outcome, with the objective of encouraging offensive play. The experience was ultimately inconclusive. At the start of the 2006–07 season, the league introduced an Attacking Play Table to encourage the scoring of more goals in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. The LFP, with the help of the former manager Michel Hidalgo introduced the idea to reward those teams who score the most goals. The table was similar to the previous idea, but was independent from the official league table and clubs were only rewarded with monetary bonuses.
European qualification 
Currently, as determined by the UEFA coefficient, the top three teams in Ligue 1 qualify for the Champions League, with the top two proceeding directly to the group phase. The third-placed team enters in the third qualifying round. The fourth-placed team qualifies for the UEFA Europa League. The other two Europa League places are determined through the country's two domestic cup competitions, the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue. If both of the cup winners qualify for Europe through their league position, the fifth and sixth-placed teams in Ligue 1 will qualify for the Europa League. The league can also be awarded a European place based on their UEFA Fair Play ranking. The league operates a Fair Play table to determine the winning club if France turns out to be the winning nation based on their Fair Play ranking.
Reliance on defence 
Many outside watchers of Ligue 1 have generally criticized the league for its over-reliance on defence, which results in matches being less entertaining. Over the last decade, Ligue 1 has regularly averaged the fewest goals per game among the top five European leagues, with the low point coming during the 2005–06 season at 2.1 goals a game, compared to the Fußball-Bundesliga that season, which averaged 2.81 a game. In the 2010–11 season, Ligue 1 clubs averaged 2.34 goals a game whilst the Premier League averaged 2.8.
Ligue 1 clubs are perceived[by whom?] to play overly defensive football with many of the clubs utilizing a holding midfielder with some clubs playing as many as two. The position has become somewhat of a mainstay in the league with several of the players occupying the position, such as Claude Makélélé, Alou Diarra, Rio Mavuba, and Frédéric Thomas serving as first-choice captain of their respective club.
Lyon dominance 
Beginning with the 2001–02 season, Olympique Lyonnais started a record streak of seven successive titles. Lyon's initial league titles were closely contested; however, the 2005–06 season saw Lyon capture the title by an unprecedented 15-point margin. The following season, they won the league with a 17-point gap, securing the title with several matches to spare. Lyon were also successful in Europe and, under president Jean-Michel Aulas, adopted a strategy which allowed them to acquire many of the top players of other clubs. The strategy paid off with Lyon notably signing players such as Michael Essien, Florent Malouda, Éric Abidal, Sébastien Squillaci, Kim Källström, and Jérémy Toulalan, among others. The resulting dominance led many to decry a lack of competitiveness within the league, making it boring and predictable with only Marseille, Monaco, Lille and Bordeaux challenging the seven-time champions during their run.
Lyon's dominance came to an end during the 2008–09 season when they were upended by not only champions Bordeaux, but also Marseille who finished runner-up. The 2009–10 Ligue 1 season witnessed increased parity in the league, as Lyon was challenged not only by established clubs such as Bordeaux, Marseille (the eventual winner), and Lille, but also smaller clubs like Montpellier and Auxerre.
Failure in European competitions 
Since the creation of the European Cup (Now UEFA Champions League) in 1955, only one French club has won the competition, Marseille in 1992–93. Along with Paris Saint-Germain (Cup Winners Cup in 1996), they are the only French clubs to have ever won a European competition. This record is considerably inferior to historically lower ranked leagues in Europe like the Dutch Eredivisie or the Portuguese Liga.
Failure in the European Cup began in the early stages of the competition with powerful French club Stade de Reims losing to Real Madrid in the inaugural final. Three years later, Reims returned to the final where they again fell to Madrid. It took almost two decades before another French side returned to the final of the European Cup. Dynastic club Saint-Étienne reached the 1976 European Cup Final but fell 1–0 to German powerhouse Bayern Munich. Though Saint-Étienne were defeated, the club brought French football back into the spotlight, which had lain dormant in Europe following Reims's fall from grace. In the competition leading up to the final, Saint-Étienne defeated European powerhouses Rangers, Dynamo Kyiv and PSV Eindhoven.
Following Saint-Étienne's success, the club entered a dry spell, which resulted in French clubs again failing to establish themselves in Europe. During the 1980s, Bordeaux achieved the country's best finish of the decade reaching the semi-finals during the 1984–85 edition of the cup. A French club finally returned to the final of the competition when Marseille, led by Jean-Pierre Papin advanced all the way to the ultimate match before falling to then Yugoslavian club Red Star Belgrade on penalties in 1991. Two years later, Marseille earned France its first ever European Cup title when the club won the competition, now called the UEFA Champions League, after defeating Italian club Milan 1–0. The victory was with controversy after Marseille president Bernard Tapie was accused and convicted of match fixing following his attempt to bribe Valenciennes players into "taking it easy" on Marseille players so as they would not waste their energy with the Champions League final being just days later. Marseille would later be stripped of their league title, but not their Champions League title.
Despite Lyon's dominance during their seven-year span of league titles, the club has failed to reach a UEFA Champions League final or, prior to 2010, even a semi-final. During the 2000s, Lyon were trumped on European level by Monaco who, led by Didier Deschamps, reached the 2004 final, but were defeated by Portuguese outfit Porto 3–0. Lyon's best overall performance in the competition, prior to the 2009–10 season, came during the 2004–05 season where they reached the quarterfinals and suffered defeat to PSV Eindhoven on penalties.
For the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League season, the criticism of French clubs' performances in the competition has dwindled following the successful play of both Bordeaux and Lyon. Bordeaux, led by youthful manager Laurent Blanc and influential playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, went undefeated in their group stage, which included the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus. Lyon performed strongly in the group stage and were partly responsible for eliminating English club Liverpool as they went undefeated against them. In the knockout rounds, Bordeaux defeated Greek club Olympiacos, while Lyon pulled off an upset eliminating Real Madrid who were due to host the tournament's final. Following the draw on 19 March 2010, both French clubs were pitted against each other, which ensured that a French club would appear in the semi-finals. Lyon advanced with a 3–2 aggregate win.
Ligue 1 clubs' finances and budgets are managed by the DNCG, an organisation responsible for monitoring the accounts of professional association football clubs in France. It was founded in 1984 and is an administrative directorate of the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP). The mission of the DNCG is to oversee all financial operations of the 44 member clubs of the LFP, develop the resources of professional clubs, apply sanctions to those clubs breaking the rules of operation, defend the morals and interests of French football in general.
Following a report by the DNCG, it was determined that the combined budget of Ligue 1 clubs was €910 million for the 2005–06 season, a 39% increase from the 2002–03 season. The prominent reason for the rise was mainly associated with the television rights deal the league regularly signs. Excluding Paris Saint-Germain, many of the top division clubs are extremely healthy with clubs such as Auxerre, Bordeaux, Lille, and Lyon being referred to as "managed to perfection". However, recently the DNCG has encouraged clubs to concentrate on limiting their "skyrocketing wage bills and the magnitude of their debts" after it was discovered that the LFP clubs accounts as a whole were in the red for the third consecutive season (2008–2011) with an estimated deficit of €130 million. In 2012, the LFP announced that the clubs deficit had been cut in half from €130 million to €65 million. Ligue 1 ranks fifth in terms of revenue brought in by clubs with the league bringing in £0.6 billion for the 2006–07 season trailing England, Italy, Spain, and Germany.
In terms of world football, clubs Lyon and Marseille are some of the richest football clubs in the world. The clubs regularly feature in the Deloitte Football Money League, which is the ranking of football clubs by revenue generated from football operations. The most recent list was conducted for the 2008–09 season and Lyon ranked 13th among clubs generating approximately €139.6 million, while Marseille were right behind them in 14th position generating €133.2 million.
A total of 76 clubs have played in Ligue 1 from its foundation in the 1932–33 season to the start of the 2011–12 season. Currently, Marseille, Montpellier, Nice, Rennes, and Sochaux are the only founding members of the league to be playing in Ligue 1. Paris Saint-Germain and Evian are the only clubs to have not suffered points relegation. Paris Saint-Germain earned promotion to the first division for the 1974–75 season and has not faltered down since, while Evian made its debut in the league for the 2011–12 season. Paris Saint-Germain was administratively relegated by the league following its split from Paris FC in 1972, but returned to the top flight two seasons later.
Members for 2012–13 
The following 20 clubs will compete in Ligue 1 during the 2012–13 season.
|First season in
|Number of seasons
in Ligue 1
|First season of
current spell in
|Last Ligue 1 title|
|Bastia||Ligue 2: 1st||1968–69||30||2012–13||0||—|
|Reims||Ligue 2: 2nd||1945–46||30||2012–13||6||1961–62|
|Troyes||Ligue 2: 3rd||1999–2000||7||2012–13||0||—|
a: Founding member of Ligue 1
b: Never been relegated from Ligue 1
Previous champions 
- Since 1932–33 French Division 1 / Counted champions in professional era only
|Rank||Club||Number of titles||Years of titles|
||1957, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981|
||1937, 1948, 1971, 1972, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2010|
||1965, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1995, 2001|
||1961, 1963, 1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2000|
||2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008|
||Stade de Reims||
||1949, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1962|
||1950, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1999, 2009|
||1951, 1952, 1956, 1959|
||1946, 1954, 2011|
||1986, 1994, 2013|
Media coverage 
In France, the Ligue de Football Professionnel has an exclusive broadcasting agreement with premium pay TV channels, Canal+ and beIN Sport. The latter channel is operated by Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera. The agreement with Al Jazeera, reached on 23 June 2011, pays the LFP €510 million over four seasons. Following the announcement of the agreement, it was revealed that Canal+ had acquired four television packages, while beIN Sport acquired two packages.
In other European countries, the availability of Ligue 1 varies. In most countries, the league airs on either TV Arena Sport, Nova Sport, Canal+, or Sport1. In countries such as Switzerland and Poland, Ligue 1 airs on sister channels of Canal+. In Germany, league airs on Eurosport, while in the Baltic States, it airs on Viasat Sport. Ligue 1 is shown on Galaxie Sport in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. On 1 April 2010, the Ligue de Football Professionnel announced that the league had reached a multi-million euro broadcasting agreement with Italian channel Sportitalia. The channel will broadcast Ligue 1 games for the next two seasons beginning with the 2010–11 season. Sportitalia will show four live matches a week and will also air a weekly highlights show.
Other countries 
In countries on the continent of Africa, Ligue 1 matches air on sister channels of Canal+, as well as Supersports, TV5 Monde, RTNC, and MuviTV. In the Americas, Ligue 1 airs on Fox Soccer Plus and TV5 Monde in the United States. In Brazil, pay television channel Sportv airs matches from the league, while in Mexico and the Caribbean, the league airs on Televisa Deportes Network, as well as TV5Monde with five matches being televised a week, three games live and two on delay. In Asia, matches air on Guangdong TV in China. Ligue 1 is shown on J Sports in Japan. On 8 April 2010, a deal was reached a week later with Hong Kong telecommunications company PCCW who will broadcasts Ligue 1 matches in the region for the next two seasons. On 12 August 2012, a deal was reached a weekly later with the Indonesia transmissions will by B Channel, in every matches would be completed.
The current Ligue 1 trophy, L'Hexagoal, was developed by the Ligue de Football Professionnel and designed and created by Franco-Argentine artist Pablo Reinoso. The trophy has been awarded to the champion of France since the end of the 2006–07 season, replacing the previous Ligue 1 trophy that had existed for only five years. The name Hexagoal was derived from an official competition created by the LFP and French TV channel TF1 to determine a name for the new trophy. Over 9,000 proposals were sent in and, on 20 May 2007, French Football Federation member Frédéric Thiriez announced that, following an online vote, the term Hexagoal had received half of the votes. The first club to hoist the new trophy was Olympique Lyonnais who earned the honour after winning the 2007–08 season.
Monthly and annual 
In addition to the winner's Trophy and the individual winner's medal players receive, Ligue 1 also awards the monthly Player of the Month award. Following the season, the UNFP Awards are held and awards such as the Player of the Year, Manager of the Year, and Young Player of the Year from both Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are handed out.
See also 
- "Rules of the DNCG" (in French). LFP. Retrieved 1 January 2010.[dead link]
- Lawrence, Amy (21 March 2010). "Bordeaux and Lyon bring new wave of French optimism". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Le foot français dans le rouge". France Football. 24 April 2010. Retrieved 24 April 2010.
- "Ligue 1 Focus – Money, money, money…". A Different League. 21 March 2010. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
- "65 millions d'euros de déficit en 2010-11 pour les clubs pros". Ouest-France (in French). 6 April 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- "PREMIER LEAGUE TOWERS OVER WORLD FOOTBALL, SAYS DELOITTE". Sport Business. 31 May 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Real Madrid becomes the first sports team in the world to generate €400m in revenues as it tops Deloitte Football Money League". Sport Business Group. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "Bilan des clubs". Ligue de Football Professionnel (in French). Retrieved 19 March 2010.
- "Al Jazeera make move into Ligue 1". ESPN. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- "La LFP choisit Al Jazeera, comme prévu" (in French). Eurosport. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
- La Ligue 1 signe un accord de diffusion en clair en Italie
- 2009/2010 – Ligue 1 Broadcasters – Europe
- PCCW secures broadcast rights for Ligue 1
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ligue 1|
- Official Site (English)
- Ligue 1 : presentation – All time table and all results since 1932 with links to entire results and winners, second and third.
- League321.com - French football league tables, records & statistics database.