French economist makes startling case for Celtic to join Ligue 1

By Euan Davidson

March 30, 2021

In a not-too-distant future, Celtic might be joining Ligue 1, with fans singing “Allez vous les gars en vert”.

That’s the proposal suggested by noted French economist and professor at the University of Le Mans, Jean-Pascal Gayant. Gayant is suggesting that Ligue 1 should expand, with Celtic and Rangers joining the French top-tier.

Sûrement pas!” I hear you say. Mais, Gayant makes a compelling case. France’s league structure is under financial threat. TV deals are in place, but only until the end of the season [Sports Pro]. PSG are dominant in a league suffering from €1.3bn in losses over 20-21 [Sports Pro]

In an interview with So Foot, Gayant explained:

“I am convinced that we must anticipate rather than undergo an internationalisation of so-called “domestic” leagues. [European football is] characterised by a fragmentation that seems more and more anachronistic.

“…the Champions League and the other European cups form a system allowing the best teams to compete against each other on a recurring basis, but, in the national championships, the gap between the [rich and poor] continues to grow.

It is also a real proposal, because the Scottish championship is a bit wobbly: 12 teams that meet three times each, then five more games to find a way to end the season by trying to correct the structural imbalance … In addition, the two Glasgow clubs crush the Scottish record [for league wins].”

“Yes, making room for these two Scottish clubs in our Ligue 1 seems to me to be an opportunity jointly for Scottish football as for French football.”

Stephen Welsh against Lille in the Europa League for Celtic / (Photo by Rob Casey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Zut alors! Celtic in Ligue 1?

Given that we’ve just seen Holland and Belgium agree a league merger of sorts [Independent], the landscape of European football is changing. While football is cyclical and it’s easy to imagine French football will work itself out of this crisis, it’s an interesting proposition.

Not least because of the pre-existing links between support bases. There are friendships between PSG and Celtic supporters, as well as established ideological links with Marseille. The ultra culture of French football (when done correctly) would appeal to a number of Celtic fans, particularly those who are in or endorse the Green Brigade.

Just imagine the response from Scottish clubs, though. Celtic and Rangers create so much revenue in the Scottish Premiership that there would be utter outcry if it was just the big two leaving the league. While an Atlantic League proposal isn’t quite dead yet, that contains Motherwell and Aberdeen.

Also, there are two factors at play here that aren’t being considered: 1. Would Ligue 1 want the baggage of the Glasgow Derby, and 2. What about away supporters? From both sides of the Channel Tunnel, it’d be a considerable expenditure to make away games in Reims, Bordeaux or Lyon.

It’s a fun idea, for sure. Celtic could more than hold their own in Ligue 1, although toppling PSG would be considerably difficult. The matches would be excellent, as our recent battles against Lille and Rennes have shown.

However, Celtic’s pulling power on the continent in terms of recruitment is significantly affected by European football and competing for trophies. It would take time to adjust and, let’s face it, PSG would rout the title at least most years. They spend sums that are absolutely unthinkable to most of Europe, let alone Ligue 1.

With an eye on the future, it’s certainly one of the more interesting ideas we’ve heard. Let’s say that at least.

I’m sure Anthony Ralston’s up for it.

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