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French league blocks Luzenac's bid to play in 2nd division on stadium safety grounds

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PARIS - Newly-promoted Luzenac's season looks increasingly uncertain after the French football league maintained its decision to stop the club from playing in the second division because its stadium does not meet safety requirements.

Luzenac won promotion from the third-tier National league. But the LFP ruled this month that the 20,000-seat Ernest Wallon Stadium that Luzenac planned to upgrade for use this season falls short of required safety standards, even though it is a venue for top-flight rugby club Toulouse.

Although four matches have already been played in the French second division, the LFP gave Luzenac an extended period to prove that its stadium conforms to the required norms. But following a meeting on Wednesday, the LFP stood by its initial decision.

"The LFP's administrative council, which is responsible for the consistency of its competitions, the security of its spectators and fairness between clubs, has no other choice but to once again refuse Luzenac's participation in the second division," the LFP said in a statement.

The future for Luzenac is not immediately clear.

Despite protests from the government's junior sports minister, Thierry Braillard, the second division got under way as usual without Luzenac, which continued to argue its case and even asked an administrative court in Toulouse to suspend the league. However, the Toulouse court has not yet intervened, and thus left the matter for the LFP to deal with.

The team was founded in Luzenac, a Pyrenees village of 600 people, in 1936. Jerome Ducros, a property developer, took over in 2010 with big ambitions to lift the team into the second division. He kept the name, although the players actually train in Toulouse.

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