Lens return to Ligue 1 after successful legal battle

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Racing Club de Lens have had official confirmation from the French Football Federation (FFF) that their promotion to Ligue 1 will happen after complications with their original budget led to them being relegated on administrative grounds.

The official Ligue 1 website reports that the FFF decided the fate of the club with the help of the recommendation from the CNOSF, France’s Olympic Committee and sports arbitration body, who had earlier last week confirmed they suggested Lens should make a return to Ligue 1.

Escape relegation

Lens had initially been relegated to Ligue 2 by the DNCG, the governing body that checks all French football teams budgets and their sustainability, after a discrepancy in the original budget.

Owner Hafiz Mammadov had been expected to pay in an extra €10 million to the club’s budget but the money was, at that time, not yet available to the club. The initial reasoning was due to a holiday weekend in France, but then the club’s owner decided against giving the money to the club, amid rumours that he had been arrested in his home country of Azerbaijan.

The decision not to give the money to the club meant that club president Gervais Martel has been working around the clock with other club officials to alter the budget to fulfil the criteria set by the DNCG.

Successful appeal

With the appeal of the DNCG’s decision going to the highest body in French sports, the CNOSF, any recommendation made by them would all but seal the club’s fate. The CNOSF decision went in Lens’ favour after seeing all the work that the club had put in to resolve the problem.

The FFF did impose some conditions on the club though. They ruled that the DNCG still keep a watchful eye over Lens’ transfers and salary cap and enforcing the cap if need be.

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However, Martel, who has battled tirelessly since the process began, was in a celebratory mood. Having said from the start that he would ensure the club would keep their place in the league after promotion last season, he feels as if he has delivered.

He also praised owner Mammadov, who he says has put in a “huge effort” to support the club financially and with the Azerbaijani on board, it means that the club will remain out of the red for the whole season.

Month-long battle

After over a month of battling with various sporting bodies to confirm their place in the top-flight, Lens now have just over a week to prepare the team before the start of the season, kicking off next weekend against Nantes.

With head coach Antoine Kombouare rejoining the squad after refusing to train the squad until their decision was confirmed, the club can now try and bring in some new recruits to prepare for their first season in Ligue 1 since 2011.

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