Ligue 1 to reprogram kick-off time for Chinese fans from 2020, says LFP official

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PARIS, April 12 (Xinhua) -- French professional football league (LFP) Chief Executive Didier Quillot has revealed that the kick-off time of some matches on Sunday will be advanced to 1 p.m. local time from the 2020-21 season for Chinese fans' good.

"We need to program matches earlier in the day. Starting from 2020, we will have one match every Sunday to kick off at 1 p.m. in France, as what we did on matches between Lyon and Monaco, Nice and PSG," Quillot told Chinese media here on Friday.

For Quillot, boosting French league's development in China firstly requires its presence, and develop it on digital network and social media, also calling for increasing the value of its TV right and relationship with all broadcasters.

Quillot mentioned that last year's French Super Cup held in China's southern city of Shenzhen also helped in promoting the league overall and both clubs in the most populous country.

"In terms of marketing, we need to have different content based on storytelling. We start to develop content more dedicated to the Ligue 1 region, trying to invent new way of storytelling of Ligue 1," he pointed out.

Calling it "a global action plan", Quillot said that it should be based on the club performance.

"It's a plan with many actions, but the action No. 1 is purely performance of clubs," he commented.

Regarding the Premier League and La Liga as top two European leagues, Quillot has targeted at making Ligue 1 the third in 2022.

"Ligue 1 is by far not so well known as Premier League or La Liga in China. It's coming from many things," admitted Quillot.

He thought that other European leagues started to work on the development of their brands all over the world, especially in China, 10-15 years ago, while the French league started it only three years ago, thus needing necesscary time to grow.

The second point, for Quillot, is about the performance of French clubs. "Unfortunately Paris Saint-Germain have not won the Champions League. Our club need to perform better. Also, we are not doing enough storytelling about players, stars and clubs, so we have to improve the way we do our marketing of Ligue 1."

"Today we are catching up with Serie A in terms of value of right and attractiveness. We need to catch up with Bundesliga, but it's long journey," he said, adding that "China is our top priority".

"Ligue 1 is producing good football in terms of techinical and tactical aspect. But we need to work more. We need to have better performance in Champions League. Our No. 1 target now is to be successful in Champions League," Quillot pointed out.

Runaway leaders PSG, a draw at Lille away from their sixth league title in seven seasons, agonizingly crashed out from the Champions League round of 16 for the third year running, faltering to Manchester United on away goals.

Despite PSG's dominance domestically, Quillot considered that Ligue 1 should not be to blame for the club's staggering performance in European competition.

"PSG is dominant, that's true. But you have the same type of domination, in Italy with Juventus, in Germany with Bayern Munich, in Spain with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Except Premier League, where every season you don't know who will win the champions, the rest of leagues more or less have the same champions. Dominance of PSG is not different from others.

"PSG is dominant, but it's not the reason why they are not successful in Champions League. They were unlucky. In their match against Manchester United back in Paris, Neymar was not there, and they conceded a penalty at the end of match, it was very unfortunate," he said.

Quillot said, "Personally I would like that Ligue 1 is more competitive. I would perfer that champions will be known on the very last day at the end of May. Some surprises happened in the French League Cup as PSG lost to Guingamp, who made into the final. The reason why they are unsuccessful in Champions League is they are not strong enough mentally, and they are unlucky."

The French league boasts many young talents, highlighted by Kylian Mbappe and Nicolas Pepe this season. Thereafter, promising stars have been linked with a move to other big European clubs following their glittering performance.

"We are the No. 1 country in terms of producing talents, no doubt. We have the best academy in the world, and are good at training and educating talents. We were the world champions in Russia last July with one of the youngest teams," Quillot showed his pride.

For Quillot, the unique way to retain talents in France is to improve the economic model of French football, including broadcast rights, ticketing and matchday revenue, sponsoring and merchandising.

"If we do all of this, our revenus and profitability of business will increase, and we will be able to retain talents," he said. Enditem

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