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Ajaccio's promotion dream survives violence-marred playoff

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PARIS (Reuters) – France’s football league on Tuesday refused to annul a violence-marred League 2 playoff match between Le Havre and Ajaccio, but said the Corsican side would play its next game for promotion in an empty stadium because of crowd trouble.

Ajaccio fans attacked the visiting team’s bus on Friday, throwing stones and blocking its route to the stadium, forcing the match to be postponed by two days.

The encounter on Sunday was no less fraught with four extra-time red cards in a game that ended 2-2. The home side’s manager Olivier Pantaloni was himself banned from the touch line, only to stand behind the goal during the penalty shootout which Ajaccio won.

“There are no grounds on which to reverse AC Ajaccio’s victory,” the Professional Football League’s Competition Committee said in a statement.

“The technical complaint by HAC regarding the presence of Ajaccio coach Olivier Pantaloni on the pitch before the penalty shootout, even though he had been sent off by the referee, does not in the League’s rules constitute a reason for invalidating a result.”

The League’s Disciplinary Committee had analysed the pitch invasion and racist chants and ruled that Ajaccio’s game against Ligue 1’s relegation-threatened Toulouse be played in a neutral stadium behind closed doors, the statement said.

Ajaccio play Toulouse in the first leg of their two-match playoff for a place in next season’s top-flight on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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