Soccer-LFP votes to reduce Ligue 1 to 18 clubs from 2023-24 season

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(Reuters) - France's Ligue 1 will be reduced from 20 teams to 18 from the 2023-24 season after the French professional league (LFP) said on Thursday that over 97% of the votes at its general assembly were in favour of the proposal.

The assembly reached an agreement to reduce the number of sides by relegating four teams from Ligue 1 at the end of the 2022-23 season while only two are promoted from the second tier Ligue 2.

Ligue 1 has had 18 teams in the past but was last expanded to 20 teams in the 2002-03 season. The current format has the bottom two clubs relegated while the 18th-placed side enters the relegation playoffs.

"It's a very good decision which shows the unity of the players in French football," LFP president Vincent Labrune said in a statement.

"Above all, it makes it possible to create the conditions for an ambitious reform plan for the future."

The LFP added that Ligue 2 will also have to look at reducing its number of teams to 18.

At the end of the 2023/24 season, the promotion and relegation system will revert to two teams being relegated from Ligue 1 and two promoted from Ligue 2 plus a playoff between third from bottom in Ligue 1 and third in Ligue 2.

Among the top leagues in Europe, Germany's Bundesliga also has 18 top-flight teams with 34 rounds of matches instead the 38 rounds in England, Spain and Italy.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)