All you need to know about France Ligue 1

France Ligue 1 in a glance!

Ligue 1 Overview

For all football fans out there, we are pleased to inform you that we come live again with another fantastic league in Europe. There is no doubt that this one crazily thrills you and advances your soccer experience. If you have been looking a carpet football played under fully packed stadiums, then watch out for Ligue 1. Here it comes!


Popularity of Ligue 1

Typically, Ligue 1, formerly referred to as Division 1, is the prime French Association football championship and it is currently the top division as far league system of French soccer is concerned. Indeed, it is one of the two units making up the great Ligue de Football Professionnel, and of course, the other being Ligue 2. Currently, it is ranked fifth in Europe by FIFA as far as the popularity of the league is concerned, of course behind La Liga, English Premier League, Bundesliga, and Serie A.

soccer fans in one of the top clubs in France league 1
Structure of football

Structure of the league

Just like English Premier League, Ligue 1 is a competition contested by 20 men’s football clubs, and the league operates on a system of relegation and promotion together with Ligue 2. A complete season spans across two years, running from August to May with clubs playing 38 games. In other words, there are 380 games in the entire season. Similar to many other European leagues, Ligue 1 is mostly played over the weekend (Saturdays and Sundays). Another thing worth noting is that most games are played in the afternoon evening to ensure as many fans as possible get time to attend the event.

History of Ligue 1

Before 1930, French football had no professionalism. In other words, there was no formal order on how matters related to club football were to be conducted. Fortunately, in the mid-1930, a proposal to launch football association and develop football professionalism was tabled and unanimously agreed by the National Council of the French Football Federation. It started well in 1932 when professionalism was officially implemented. Indeed, 1932 was the time in French football history when they first saw the launch of Ligue 1, which inaugurated under the name National. However, one year later, the name National was changed to Division 1, and it remained so until 2002 when it has been modified to current league name, the Ligue 1.

As earlier mentioned, the federation limited the league to have at most 20 clubs. To participate in the championship, qualification was rigorous and involved some important selection criteria, which include clubs must have previous positive results, at least recruited eight professional players, must be able to pull and generate enough revenues to finance its operations, and much more. Indeed, some of these conditions or rules did not go well with some clubs such as RC Roubaix, Stade Francais, Amiens SC, and others, while others like Olympique Lillois and Rennes turned down citing varied reasons. Despite some few mishaps, eventually, most clubs earned professional status and joined the league.

history of soccer

Football clubs in Ligue 1

Since its foundation way back in 1932, over 80 French football clubs have participated in the competition. Some of the founding member clubs of Ligue 1 include Marseille, Nice, Rennes, Montpellier, and much more. Others like Gazelec Ajaccio and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are the only two clubs in the above league that has never suffered point relegation. It should be remembered that PSG earned its promotion to the First Division during 1974-75 seasons and since then, it has never been relegated.

While AS Saint-Etienne is one of the most successful clubs in France leading with ten (Ligue 1) titles, Olympique Lyon is following its footsteps with seven titles after winning the consecutive titles between 2002 and 2008. The current Ligue 1 titleholder is the PSG, which won its sixth title during the season of 2015-2016.

Ligue 1 competition format

As stated in the introductory section, there’re 20 men’s football clubs participating in the contest, which starts in August and ends in May. Each of the twenty clubs plays twice, once at their home field and once at the away field (that of their opponents). Indeed, each club is supposed to play 38 games in total.

Just like any other professional football leagues, teams are awarded 3 points for a win and share a single point for a draw. Typically, no point is awarded for a loss. After each game result, all the teams are ranked based on the total number of points accrued, then goal difference, and of course, based on goals scored. At the end of the season (that is in May), the club that earned the highest number of points is declared the champion. However, if points are equal, the second criteria is used-the goal difference. Nevertheless, if points and goal difference are equal again, the last option is used-goals scored, to determine the winner. If it is equal, which is not a typical scenario; the clubs are deemed to occupy the same position.

After ranking, three lowest clubs are relegated to Ligue 2, and at the same time, three clubs from Ligue 2 are promoted to the main championship. A strange case happened in 2015/16 season where only two clubs were promoted from Ligue 2 and two relegated.

Besides promotion and relegation, the four teams from Ligue 1 qualify for the UEFA Champions League. However, the top three proceeds directly to the group stages, while the fourth placed club enters into the third qualifying round. The fifth-placed club qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.

PSG player trying to score
Scoring a goal


If you are used to predictable football, then this might not sound well with you. As a matter of fact, French football is known across the world for being particularly good at suspense. In fact, they have been dubbed ‘Masters of Suspense.’ They are offering the best title race of the five giant European leagues. It is not like in England where top four is almost certain or Serie A where everyone knows Roma or Juventus can take the title. Besides the beauty of suspense in Ligue 1, it is also considered as one of the few leagues where you expect to watch a game called ‘carpet soccer.’

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