PARIS: French league president Frederic Thiriez has blamed French clubs’ refusal to take seriously the Europa League for the country’s prospective slip behind Portugal in the UEFA coefficient which decides countries’ rights to European club places.

Marseille’s defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals plus Sporting Lisbon’s advance to the Europa League last four means that France will slip out of Europe’s ‘Big Five’ for the 2013-14 season. This measn that the third-placed club in the French club will start out in the risky third preliminary round of the elite competition.

Thiriez said: “It’s all down to the fact that our clubs do not take the Europa League as seriously as clubs in Portugal. Yet the ‘points’ gained are as important as those in the Champions League.

“One problem is that French clubs have a much heavier burden to carry in terms of tax and social security demands than clubs in other countries like Germany or like Spain where the clubs have been allowed to go millions of euro into debt with the revenue authorities. Also domestic TV rights will not be as profitable over the next four years.

“We have some difficult years ahead but I believe things will start to look up when Financial Fair Play takes effect in European competition and when we have our new stadia ready for the 2016 European Championship.”

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