AS Monaco recently secured promotion to Ligue 1, creating ripples in the footballing world.
Normally, a team getting promoted would not prove enough to cause such notice in the general population of football fans, but Monaco's promotion does. Why? Because they are owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and he has promised to make Monaco a major force in the continent.
After a failed promotion attempt last time, the owner regrouped - hiring experienced manager Claudio Ranieri, and spending significant money in signing Argentine wonder-kid Lucas Ocampos and Congo international Delvin N'Dinga from Auxerre. And succeed they did this time around, winning Ligue 2 by a healthy margin of six points, Rybolovlev did not wait long to strengthen his squad for the very next season, having already acquired the services of in-demand Porto pair James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho.
With the entry of another super rich, determined competitor to the Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint Germain, fans of Ligue 1 are in for exciting times next season.
With the arrival of Monaco, the French league is likely to get more competitive. This increased competitiveness is likely to attract more world class players to the entire league, and not just PSG and Monaco.
And apart from the arrivals of top class players, Monaco's arrival and the advent of greater competition due to it may even tip the balance and compel many world class players to stay in the league. The French league, for once, may finally stop being considered as a stepping stone to bigger and better places. This in turn will raise the stock of Ligue 1, which could see an increase in revenues for clubs in the league.
TV viewership rights will also increase, and interest may re-ignite in French football after many years - maybe even upto the level when Marseille were one of the top players in Europe.
But probably the biggest contribution the rise of Monaco can make to French football is in the Champions League. With the financial muscle of Monaco and PSG set to make them attractive options for top players, these clubs will arise to become true contenders for Europe's top prize.
This may serve to finally put French football at a prominent spot on the world footballing map for the first time in decades. Looking at the performance of French teams in the Champions league, we find a dismal picture.
Only once has a team from France won the trophy (Marseille in 1993) in the 57-year history of the competition. Also, only six times has a French team reached the final (the last being Monaco themselves in 2004). These figures may finally be about to change with two powerhouses arising in France in the current era.
However one bad thing that can arise from the arrival of the Los Monegasques is that the French league will get harder to win for the teams with lesser financial muscle.
Even though a monopoly such as that witnessed in the case of Lyon in the 2000s will most likely be avoided, the French league could well turn out to become a solid duopoly as is the case in Spain. One can only hope for miracles such as Montpellier to happen more frequently to keep the league from becoming a two-horse race.
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