France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) and Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) have become the latest major European sports bodies to unveil plans aimed at tackling the energy crisis.
The LFP and LNR’s plans come after the French government yesterday (Thursday) unveiled a “sobriety plan”. This was made up of 15 “flagship” measures to get through the winter without blackouts and also prepare the country for greater long-term savings to address the global climate emergency.
Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Energy Transition Minister, called for a “general mobilisation” of the whole country to initially achieve a “10% reduction in energy consumption” in two years’ time, when compared to 2019.
In response, the LNR said in a statement: “The Ligue Nationale de Rugby welcomes the energy sobriety plan presented by the Government and shares the collective ambition of reducing energy consumption by 10%.
“This plan commits all players in French sport to a positive approach to energy sobriety. The consultation phase conducted upstream by the Ministry of Sports has enabled players in French sport in general, and the LNR in particular, to share good practices and put forward solutions that take into account the expectations of all stakeholders: federations, leagues, clubs, broadcasters, and partners.”
In coordination with broadcast partner Canal Plus, the LNR has proposed the total elimination of lighting for daytime matches, when weather conditions permit. As far as night matches are concerned, it has proposed a 30-minute reduction in lighting time at 100% capacity.
Ahead of a match, the specifications currently provide for the floodlights to be on at full levels 90 minutes before the start of the game. As part of the sobriety plan, the lights will not be on at 100% until one hour before kick-off.
At the end of the match, as soon as the television broadcast has ended and fans have left the stands, power will be reduced to a minimum. The LNR said these measures will be applicable in domestic leagues the Top 14 and Pro D2, adding that European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) will also apply them to Champions Cup and Challenge Cup matches staged in France.
Several projects intended to reduce the energy footprint of the competitions will also be undertaken, in collaboration with the municipalities concerned – for example through transport plans and evolution of lighting towards LED technology.
Emmanuel Eschalier, general manager of the LNR, said: “The work of this working group has been fuelled by the concrete solutions already experienced by professional rugby to reduce the environmental impact of its activities.
“The mobility plan with bike lanes specifically designed in Nice during the semi-finals of the Top 14 2022, or even assessing the carbon footprint of the LNR and our current events to make a diagnosis and take the appropriate measures to continue to improve our functioning and continue this positive dynamic.
“In addition to the measures taken in the short term, professional rugby will be fully committed to the deployment of structuring measures to meet the objectives of reducing the energy footprint of our competitions.”
While the LFP has yet to make an official statement on the matter, L’Équipe reports that the governing body has issued a document to stadium managers of all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs concerning a new procedure for making venues suitable for TV production.
The current protocol has stadia lit at 50% capacity from four hours before a match, rising to full capacity three hours before kick-off with a minimum power of 900 lux. From this weekend’s round of games, which begin with today’s Ligue 1 match between Olympique Lyonnais and Toulouse, new measures will be in place.
For evening games that kick off at 7pm, 8:45pm or 9pm, lights will be switched on at 50% capacity two-and-a-half hours before the game, rising to 100% two hours before the start of action. For daytime kick offs at 1pm, 3pm or 5pm, where appropriate floodlights will be at 50% two hours before play, rising to 100% 90 minutes before kick-off.
Reduction of lighting after full-time will now go to 50% 45 minutes after the final whistle, instead of the current 90 minutes.
Italy’s Lega Serie A and the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) set out similar initiatives last month.