French Ligue 1 Betting Introduction
Ligue 1 is the top division of the professional football league in France, sometimes locally referred to as Le Championnat. Professional football in France has existed since 1932 and football is the biggest sport in France with Ligue 1 being enormously popular there.
It is the sixth best league in Europe in terms of quality when measured by the UEFA co-efficient, just behind the Portugese Primeira Liga and has quite a broad international appeal.
Historically, French football has been a very open competition and up until the beginning of this century no team was really dominant. Saint-Etienne leads all teams with 10 titles, just one ahead of Marseille on 9, with Nantes next on 8. Lyon put a halt to the open nature of the league in 2002 and dominated the first decade of the century winning 7 titles in a row between 2002 and 2008, having never won the league before then.
Ligue 1 Format
As is common in Europe, Ligue 1 consists of 20 teams who each play each other both home and away for a total of 38 games. The season runs from August to May. Three league points are awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. At the end of the season, the team with the most points is crowned the champion. If two or more teams are tied on points then goal difference (goals scored – goals allowed) is used as the tie breaker to determine who finishes ahead. If the tie can’t be broken with goal difference, then total goals scored is used.
At the end of the season, the three teams with the lowest points totals are relegated to Ligue 2, and the three top Ligue 2 teams are promoted. France used to operate a playoff system to determine those who would be relegated and promoted, but swapped to a straight system in 1995.
At the other end of the table, teams vie for qualification for European competition. France’s sixth place ranking as determined by the UEFA co-efficient means that the top two teams qualify directly for the group stages of the Champions League with the third place team entering at the playoff round. If they win a two legged match against another playoff team, they then advance to the group stages. If they fail, they qualify for the Europa League. The fourth place team qualify directly for the Europa League, with the fifth and sixth place teams entering the same competition at the qualifying stages.
Sponsorship and Media Coverage
In France, live games are only available to pay TV customers who subscribe to Canal+ or Orange, the latter of which are the league’s official sponsors. Outside France, Ligue 1 doesn’t get a huge amount of coverage. Pan-European broadcaster Eurosport shows some games, and Canal+ also shows games in other countries in which it operates. The reason Ligue 1 isn’t popular outside France is often suggested to be down to the defensive style of play, which sees the average goals per game figure for the league consistently amongst the lowest in Europe.
Despite the leagues comparatively poor international marketability, it has several global brands among the shirt sponsors, such as Emirates, Kia, Toyota and Peugeot. Aside from these, teams rely heavily on French facing gambling companies for shirt sponsorship with the Everest Poker and Winamax brands sponsoring Lyon and Saint Etienne respectively.
As mentioned, Ligue 1 has been dominated by Lyon in the 21st century, who won eight successive championships. Recently however there has been something of a shift in power away from Lyon, with three different winners emerging in the years from 2009 to 2011 although Lyon have managed to crack the top three in each of these years. Despite their dominance in France, Lyon (nor any other French team) have never managed to perform well in Europe, with a quarter final defeat in 2005 and a semi-final drubbing by Bayern Munich in 2010 being their best results in recent memory. In fact, France has only ever had one winner in the history of the European cup.
The dearth of European success for French teams suggests that the conservative style of play that pervades the league is not effective against the bigger, more expansive sides that regularly make the latter stages of the Champions League.
Ligue 1 Facts and Figures
-The biggest victory in Ligue 1 history was Sochaux’s 12-1 defeat of Valencienne in 1936.
-Jan-Luc Ettori holds the Ligue 1 appearances record with 602 appearances for Monaco between 1975 and 1994.
-Delio Onnis holds the goal-scoring record with 299 goals, also for Monaco.
-The single season goal scoring record lies with Josip Skoblar who scored 44 goals in the 1970-1971 season.
-Marseille president Bernard Tapie was convicted of match fixing in 1993 after attempting to bribe Valencienne players to ‘soft play’ against Marseille who had an important match coming up.