Coronavirus: French Prime Minister says Ligue 1 season will not resume

'The 2019-2020 season of professional sports, especially that of football, will not be able to resume,' says Edouard Philippe

The French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has told parliament that neither Ligue 1 football or any other professional sport will be allowed to finish their 2019/20 seasons.

"The 2019-2020 season of professional sports, especially that of football, will not be able to resume," Philippe said.

He also said that following the end of a nationwide lockdown on May 11, gatherings of more than 10 people indoors or outdoors will remain banned and that beaches will remain closed to the public at least until June 1.

Philippe made the announcement as part of a gradual plan to lift the lockdown in France. He said no event where more than 5,000 people gather would be allowed until at least September.

The news is also likely to effect the Tour de France, due to embark from Nice on August 29 and where huge crowds would be expected to gather at the start and finish lines.

"I would like to be precise here, no large sports gathering or any gathering of 5,000 people or more, needing the permission of the local police and long prior arrangements, will be allowed before September," Philippe said.

The announcement appears to scupper the plans of French football's top division Ligue 1 to start again in June with players being recalled as of May 11.

Football in France's top two divisions were suspended on March 13 as the country battled to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

France has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with around 23,000 dead so far.

It is not yet known whether Ligue de Football Professional (LFP) will follow the likes of their Dutch counterparts and abandon the season with no champions, promotion or relegation.

Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain are 12 points clear of second-placed Marseille, and looked on course for a third successive title with 10 rounds left to play and one rearranged fixture still 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 places.

The decision to suspend Ligue 1 could provide an obstacle for Uefa, who had been looking into completing the Champions League and Europa League campaigns in August.

PSG and Lyon are still in the Champions League, with the former through to the quarter-finals and the latter holding a 1-0 first-leg lead against Juventus in the round of 16.