PARIS -- Second-tier French club Nimes will be relegated at the end of the season after their former president was found guilty of trying to fix matches.
After interviewing about 50 officials, players and coaches over two days, the French league disciplinary commission said on Tuesday that Jean-Marc Conrad tried to fix four matches as his club fought off relegation last season. He was banned from football-related activities for seven years.
Seven games involving Nimes were investigated after Conrad was arrested last November. The investigation followed a 1-1 draw against Caen last May that kept Nimes in the second division and saw Caen promoted to the Ligue 1.
On the judicial side of the case, preliminary charges of corruption have been filed against Caen president Jean-Francois Fortin and Conrad, who has stepped down in the aftermath of the scandal.
Nimes will play in the third division next season unless they gain promotion to Ligue 1. The southern club are currently eighth in the Ligue 2 standings.
"Conrad tried to fix some matches and defraud sporting ethics,'' said Sebastien Deneux, the disciplinary commission president. "This was a violation of morality."
Nimes' new president Christian Perdrier said he will appeal the decision to the French football federation and urged his players to keep fighting.
"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."
The commission also handed a 10-year suspension to Nimes' main shareholder, Serge Kasparian, while four other people suspected of having played a central role in the attempted fixing were suspended for between two months and two years.
Fortin was cleared of any wrongdoing after the commission ruled that he resisted Conrad's offer to arrange the result of the match between the two clubs.
In 1994, Marseille were relegated to the second division after being stripped of their 1993 league title for bribing several Valenciennes players before a match. The club won the 1993 Champions League and was allowed to keep their European title by UEFA, but were not permitted to defend it.