French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has been the name of the top division in French football league since 2002, before that it was called Division 1. The league in its original form was first inaugurated in 1932, two years after professionalism in French football became legal.

Basic facts

Founded: 2002 (1932)
Country: France
Organizer: French Football Federation (Fédération Française de Football; FFF)

Names

National / Division 1 (1932-2002)
Ligue 1 (2002-)

League records

Most championships: Saint-Étienne (10)
Most played seasons: Marseille (70)

History and facts

Football became popular relatively late on the other side of the English Channel; for the French cycling was the prime sport. Nevertheless, in the 1890s football started to flourish in Paris and soon spread to other regions. The first national (although only Parisian team participated) competition was arranged in 1894. This was several decades before the introduction of professional football in the country though.

The first season of the professional league was played in 1932 and included 20 teams (at this certain season the league was called National), the same number of teams that are included in Ligue 1 today.

The winner has since 2007 received the “Hexagoal” trophy designed by Pablo Reinoso. It has replaced the old trophy, called “le Trophée de Ligue 1”, designed by d'Andrée Putman.

The 20 particpating clubs play against each other in home and away games, resulting in 38 for each team during a season. Since the 1994-95 season, three points are received for a win; for a draw, one point is received. Most points during a season was collected by Paris Saint-Germain in the 2015-2016 season (96).

League system

Ligue 1 is the top tier of the French football league system, one level above the current Ligue 2. The third to fifth level are called Championnat National (in English: French National Championship). An overview of the current league system in France is presented in table 1.

Table 1. French football tiers
Club Tier
Ligue 1 1
Ligue 2 2
Championnat National 3
Championnat National 2 4
Championnat National 3 5

Below the fifth level follows a structure of several local regional leagues.

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Stats

Teams with most titles

Statistics of all French clubs that have won the Ligue 1 more than once, concerning the period 1932-2020 (the league was not active 1939-1945 due to the WWII), excluding the amateur era.

Table 2. Clubs and French champion titles
Club Titles
Saint-Étienne 10
Olympique de Marseille 9
PSG 9
Nantes 8
Monaco 8
Olympique Lyonnais 7
Bordeaux 6
Reims 6
Nice 4
Lille 3
Sochaux 2
Séte 2

The remaining France champions during the professional era are Lens, FC Rouen, RC Strasbourg, AJ Auxerre and Montpellier HSC with one title each.

In the 1992-1993 season no title was awarded. Marseilles got their title revoked due to a bribery scandal. If the amateur era (1893-1929) is included, Marseille would still have one extra title.

In the 2019-2020 the season was abrupted due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. PSG was awarded the title with 12 points (68 points in 27 matches) ahead of the runners-up Olympique de Marseille (56 points in 28 matches).

The last time AS Saint-Étienne won was in 1981. Since the French first division changed name to Ligue 1, Olympique Lyonnais, has collected the most titles.

During the amateur era Standard Athletic Club (dissolved in 1937) and Racing Club de Roubaix (dissolved in 1964) were the most successful clubs. Standard Athletic Club won the first two championships and when another three in the following six seasons. Racing Club de Roubaix won also five trophies during the amateur era plus one in the beginning of the professional era as Club Olympique de Roubaix-Tourcoing.

The rest of France champions during the amateur era are Stade Helvétique de Marseille (dissolved in 1932), Le Havre, Racing Club de France Football, Club Français (dissolved in 1935), CA Paris-Charenton, US Tourcoing FC, Gallia Club Paris (dissolved in 1940), Saint-Raphaël (since 2009 Fréjus Saint-Raphaël) and Stade Français.

Teams with most league participation

Statistics of the French clubs that have participated more than 50 times in the top national division during the period 1932-2019.

Table 3. Clubs and league participation
Club Participation
Marseille 70
Bordeaux 67
Saint-Étienne 67
Sochaux 66
Rennes 63
Lyon 62
Monaco 61
Nice 61
Metz 61
Lille 60
Strasbourg 59
Lens 58
Nantes 52

Between the first season and season 2019-2020, in total 73 clubs has participating in top division of the French league.

Audience

Capacity of Ligue 1 stadiums

Table 4 shows the capacity of the clubs participating in Ligue 1. Orange Vélodrome, where Marseille has played since 1937, has the highest capacity with over 67,000 seats.

Table 4. The stadium capacities in the Ligue 1 season 2019-2020
Team Stadium name Capacity
Amiens Stade de la Licorne 12,097
Angers Stade Raymond Kopa 17,835
Bordeaux Matmut Atlantique 42,115
Caen Stade Michel d'Ornano 20,453
Dijon Stade Gaston Gérard 18,376
Guingamp Stade du Roudourou 18,378
Lille Stade Pierre-Mauroy 50,157
Lyon Groupama Stadium 59,186
Marseille Orange Vélodrome 67,394
Monaco Stade Louis II 18,523
Montpellier Stade de la Mosson 32,939
Nantes Stade de la Beaujoire 37,473
Nice Allianz Riviera 35,624
Nîmes Stade des Costières 18,482
PSG Parc des Princes 48,583
Reims Stade Auguste Delaune 21,684
Rennes Roazhon Park 29,778
Saint-Étienne Stade Geoffroy-Guichard 41,965
Strasbourg Stade de la Meinau 29,230
Toulouse Stadium Municipal 33,150

Players

Top goalscorers

The league's all-time leading goalscorer is the Argentinian Delio Onnis that played in Monaco, Reims, Tours, Toulon between 1971 ands 1986. He did 299 goals in 449 appearances.

Other notabale goalscorers in the league's history are Bernard Lacombe, France Hervé Revelli, France Roger Courtois, France Thadée Cisowski and France Roger Piantoni. They all did over 200 goals each.

Players with most appearances

The player with most appearances is the goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau who played in four French clubs (Nantes, PSG, Lille and Bastia) between 1996 and 2014. In total, he made 618 appearances. One other player, the goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ettori, has done over 600 matches in Ligue 1.

Famous players

Some of the most famous players that have participated in the Ligue 1 are:

By Oscar Anderson

Ligue 1 timeline

1919 The French Football Federation (Fédération Française de Football; FFF) is founded.
1932 National (predecessor to Ligue 1) is established.
1933 The league is renamed as Division 1.
1939 The 1939-40 season is cancelled due to the WWII.
1945 The league is restored after the war.
1995 From the 1995-96 season, wins are awarded three points instead of two.
2002 The league is renamed as Ligue 1.
2017 The league is named Ligue 1 Conforama due to sponsorship reasons.
2020 The season is suspended after 279 games due to coronavirus outbreak; PSG is later awarded the league title.

References:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ligue_1
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexagoal
http://www.rsssf.com/tablesf/franchamp.html