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Football on strike over 75% tax

Club bosses call off next weekend’s games as they attack tax on players earning more than €1million

FOOTBALL bosses have called a strike for next weekend in protest at the planned 75% tax on people earning more than €1million.

The Ligue 1 clubs say the tax – which will last two years and is payable by all businesses – is too heavy a burden on thin finances; and especially as some clubs are on the verge of collapse.

Changes have already been made to the tax: it was initially meant to be paid by high-earning players but clubs objected, saying it would scare off the game’s stars, and the government made payment the club’s responsibility. The tax was also limited to less than 5% of clubs’ annual turnover.

The UCPF, the professional football club federation, decided on the strike for the weekend of November 30 and then walked out of a planned meeting with the sports minister called to examine ways to improve the way that football is financed.

President Hollande has asked them to a meeting at the Elysée next week.

Opinion polls have shown that 85% of people are against the strike and say the tax, one of Mr Hollande’s election promises, should be paid.

At the moment French football is heavily dependent on TV rights, with it being the major revenue for most clubs outside of the top two: Paris Saint-Germain (owned by oil state Qatar) and Monaco (owned by a Russian oligarch – and not in France, so not subject to the 75% tax).

While Paris Saint-Germain will pay €20m under the tax, five of the top-flight Ligue 1 clubs do not pay their stars enough to be subject to the tax – and Ajaccio will pay just €50,000, but this is still 5% of its annual business.

The 5% limit had the effect of saving PSG €24m in possible tax payments along with €7.7m for Marseille, €6.6m for Lyon and €2.9m for Lille.

Lyon boss Michel Seydoux has already said his club is for sale at €400m and has threatened to close it down. However, commentators have said its €5m tax bill is small change compared to the loan deals it has signed with banks to finance its new stadium – with nearly €250m borrowed at 7.2% a year.

Photo: Chmouel

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