PARIS: Nimes will be relegated to the third tier of the French league at the end of the season after losing the last round of their struggle to escape serious punishment for matchfixing.

The Ligue 2 side were found guilty of attempting to manipulate league matches against Bastia, Dijon, Caen and Creteil-Lusitanos last season.

Former president Jean-Marc Conrad is also suspended from any official duties for a period of seven years.

Charges of corruption have been filed against Caen president Jean-Francois Fortin and Conrad. Fortin was cleared of any wrongdoing after the commission ruled that he was not involved in the match-fix attempt.

Nevertheless, there remain suspicions over the outcome of a match which suited both clubs.

“We are reproaching Conrad for having tried to fix some matches and defraud sporting ethics,” said Deneux. “This was a violation of morality.”

Nimes’ main shareholder Serge Kasparian was handed a 10-year ban.

“I am stunned. The club is sanctioned for the actions of its former president,” Nimes’ current president Christian Perdrier was quoted as telling a news conference by French media.

“I’m going to tell the players that the best way to stay in the second division is to gain promotion to Ligue 1,” Perdrier told Infosport+ TV channel. “I’m disappointed… we are going to appeal and we will fight until the end.”

In 1994, Marseille were relegated to the second division after being stripped of their 1993 league title for bribing Valenciennes players before a match. The club won the 1993 Champions League and were allowed to keep their European title by UEFA, but were not allowed to defend it.