The new D1 Arkéma Play-Offs system explained

  • Thanks to Jean-Michel Aulas, the first women’s D1 play-offs will be played this weekend.
  • The former president of Olympique Lyonnais believes that the play-offs are essential for the “competitiveness” of the women’s D1 Arkéma.
  • Lyon regrets this new system and does not consider it “fair”.


The D1 Arkema regular season concluded this Wednesday afternoon with pleasing results.

While Lyon, PSG and Paris FC were already assured of qualification for the 4 place playoffs, and the regulation of Bordeaux and Lille in D2 (renamed Second League next season) was confirmed, FC Fleury 91 had to defeat Montpellier to secure fourth place.

But a 2-3 ended their exciting season.

At the same time, Amandine Miquel’s Stade de Reims, which did not have its destiny in its hands, had a major challenge to take up. They faced the winner of the Coupe de France, PSG.

Luckily for them, they didn’t face the more determined PSG team and took a 2-1 victory.

These two cumulative results allowed Stade de Reims, fifth, one point behind FC Fleury 91 before the matches kicked off, to grab the fourth qualifying place for the playoffs.

The semi-finals will therefore include a Paris region derby between PSG and Paris FC (Saturday May 11, at 9 p.m.), followed by Lyon-Reims on Sunday (5 p.m.).

The two winners of the semi-finals will face each other in the final of D1 Arkéma.

What is this new league format?

The president of the new professional women’s football league, Jean-Michel Aulas, former president of Lyon, is at the origin of the idea of ​​new dams.

He defends this new system, poorly received by the Lyon management, which according to him will increase the “competitiveness” of the championship.

The new D1 women’s football season delivered its implacable verdict on Wednesday: Olympique Lyonnais won its 17th French championship title in the last 18 editions, with a comfortable lead of 11 points over PSG. Really?

That’s what you would have thought, but not really.

Because Lyon has just won the “regular” season, and apparently, that is no longer enough to win the title of champion of the country.

They will now have to win the play-offs. But it doesn’t quite resemble the NBA’s endless best-of-seven game battles.

Being consistent is no longer the key to being rewarded.

Despite having crushed the competition this season, finishing first in the regular season with 11 points ahead of PSG and 26 over Stade de Reims, 4th and last qualifier in the play-offs, Lyon was not assured of the title.

They will have to play two more matches with everything on the line.

“There are other solutions than putting everything at stake over two matches to have more competitiveness in French women’s football,” insists Vincent Ponsot, CEO of OL, who hopes to see OL win the championship for the 17th time. times in its history.

“The women’s D1 should have kept its known system.”

Haitian OL Melchie Dumornay agrees with her CEO.

“This new formula is not necessarily negative,” she confided to 20 Minutes last month. “This allows clubs to show themselves, to prove themselves by trying to qualify for the play-offs. But for me, the French women’s D1 had to remain as it is. It was its identity, like the other major European championships which have kept their values.

After having reigned so much over the women’s D1 Arkéma as president of OL, Jean-Michel Aulas is the man who last year undertook this reform which existed at another time in France, from 1999 to 2004, i.e. before any draft of a professional contract. .

Broadcasters’ demand for last-minute suspense

“The broadcasters wanted suspense until the end.”

Announced on April 29 as president of the new professional women’s football league, Aulas fiercely defends the dams.

In an interview given Monday to 20 Minutes, JMA explains.

“At the FFF, we have worked on promoting professional women’s football. In the negotiations with the television channels, we had a small handicap: they wanted greater competitiveness between the clubs and suspense until the end.

“They wanted us to present an attractive product. And I saw in these play-offs a chance for everyone to compete. This will put pressure on the clubs until the end. In life, democracy has always made it possible to change things in the medium and long term. 10 clubs out of 12 were in favor of the play-offs, so we considered that to be a majority.

The two teams who refused the idea of ​​play-offs were of course the best in France, namely Lyon and Paris. They have monopolized the first two places in D1 in 12 of the last 13 seasons.

If PSG is rather discreet in the media on the subject, OL CEO Vincent Ponsot was very offensive about the choice of his former boss.

“In terms of meritocracy, it’s not fair.”

In the opposite camp, we find, for example, David Fanzel, sports director of FC Fleury 91.

“It adds spice to our season. This is a brilliant initiative for French women’s football, widely criticized for the low level of adversity in its championship. Lyon and Paris are not alone and if women’s football wants to develop, it needs everyone. We must be united. We must not think only of our own interests.”

Canal Plus TV rights

Simple. For increased TV rights, the League must no longer see OL and PSG dominate D1 Arkéma.

Since the 2023 agreement for the broadcast of the women’s D1 on Canal+ until 2029, the play-off formula is also guaranteed in the contract with the encrypted channel.

Aulas, the vice-president of the FFF, cites in this sense the establishment of a license which will prevent clubs from “not having satisfactory human and technical infrastructures”.

The new professional women’s football league will hunt down bad pitches, ban synthetic pitches and ensure that the television broadcast of matches can take place in optimal conditions.

The main thing is that there are “bonuses to achieve” from Canal+ based on criteria linked to the TV audiences generated but also to “respect for competitiveness”.

European cards are on the table

If Stade de Reims is enthusiastic about its qualification for the play-offs, its enthusiasm doubles when it thinks of possible participation in the Champions League. It would be the first time in the club’s history.

For this, upsetting Lyon in the semi-final is an option.

The other option, in the event of a defeat against Lyon, is to win the match for third place.

This season, the future French champions will qualify directly for the group stage of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, while the second and third-placed clubs will compete in the preliminary rounds.

“Risk of losing the title but also of not qualifying for Europe next season is a total heresy,” deplores Vincent Ponsot.

A higher budget for women’s football

“I personally regret that we did not take advantage of the 2019 World Cup that we organized here in France,” says Aulas.

“We intend to benefit more from the hype that followed the Paris 2024 Olympics, also thanks to a completely transformed economic model so that this professional League is the best in Europe, ahead of England.”

“During the last Executive Committee of the FFF, I voted for an investment over 5 years of between 50 and 70 million euros in order to give dynamism to professional women’s football. »

If FC Barcelona has just easily won its fifth consecutive title in Spain, and Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg have constantly occupied the top 2 places in Germany for nine years, England seems to be the example to follow, since Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are 5 points behind in the middle of the final sprint.

Can the D1 Arkéma qualifiers be the fuel necessary for the rebirth of French football?

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