French football clubs in strike threat over 75% tax

France’s top football clubs are threatening to go on strike in protest at the government’s plans to impose a 75 percent tax on them. Ligue 1 and 2 clubs are considering refusing to play fixtures scheduled for the weekend of October 26/27th, it emerged this week.

French football clubs in strike threat over 75% tax
What happens next? PSG's galacticos Zlatan Ibrahimovic (L), Edison Cavani (C) and captain Thiago Silva (R). Will a strike by French clubs overturn a 75-percent tax on salaries? Photo: JS Evrard

The biggest football clubs in France are far from happy with the prospect of having to pay a 75-percent tax on the salaries of their millionaire players, it would seem.

The UCPF (Union of Professional Football Clubs), comprising France’s top two divisions, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2, this week threatened to go on strike against the ‘super-tax.’

The union’s executive committee agreed unanimously on Tuesday to protest in some way against the tax rate, which is set to be in force for 2014 and 2015, and therefore applied to earnings for 2013 and 2014.

“Everything is possible, tensions are very high,” Bernard Caïazzo, president of St. Etienne football club told Le Journal Du Dimanche (JDD).

Strike action could even take place as quickly as next weekend, according to sources cited by JDD. A proposal for Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs to boycott fixtures over the weekend of October 26th gained significant support at Tuesday’s meeting.

The UCPF is set to meet on Thursday October 24th to finalize what form their protest will take, with France’s National Assembly scheduled to debate the new tax, beginning next week.

France’s sports minister Velerie Fourneyron confirmed in September that the country’s football clubs will not be exempt from the new 75 percent super tax.

The tax, one of President François Hollande’s flagship election proposals, is included in the government’s 2014 budget, but has not yet been approved by parliament.

Under the proposal, companies will be liable to pay the 75 tax rate for the portion of employees' salaries above €1 million annually.

And despite warnings from France’s football chiefs that the French top flight would be ruined if clubs had to pay the tax, Fourneyron insisted there will be no exceptions to the rule.

“There are no special measures. Football will be affected by the tax on high incomes,” the minister told Le Figaro at the time.

“Why should clubs be exempt from this tax?” she added.

SEE ALSO: France tops European league of millionaires

According to a study cited by Le Parisien on Thursday, French Ligue 1 clubs would be forced to shell out a combined total of €44 million under the 75-percent tax rule, on the million-euro salaries of 115 players and eight managers.

The level of contributions vary widely between clubs, with minnows Ajaccio and Guingamp, who have just one €1-million employee each paying €50,000, to champions Paris Saint-Germain, whose payroll includes 21 millionaires, including manager Laurent Blanc.

Under the planned tax scheme, PSG alone would pay a whopping €20 million extra in taxes.

Sports minister Fourneyron, however, did offer French clubs some comfort when confirming they would be liable to the 75-percent rate, announcing a cap on the tax.

The revenue from tax will be capped at 5 percent of turnover of clubs in order to reflect “the fragile economic model of football clubs”, she said at the time.

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Tour de France stage 15: Froome earns epic win

Sky team rider Chris Froome can put his feet up on Monday after his epic win in Sunday's stage 15 on the summit of the mythic Mont Ventoux. The British rider was able to extend his lead over the rest of his rivals with the Alps to come.

Tour de France stage 15: Froome earns epic win
Photo: Jeff Pachoud/AFP

It was supposed to be an epic Tour de France stage in which various rivals pooled forces to loosen Chris Froome's grip on the race's yellow jersey.

Instead, for the second time in a pulsating 100th edition, the Team Sky leader pummeled his rivals into submission with a number of rapid bursts on his way to a famous victory on Mont Ventoux arguably the Tour's toughest ever climb.

The damage, two days after Spanish rival Alberto Contador had clawed back 1min 09sec to close his deficit to 2:48, was significant.

Saxo team leader Contador trailed home 1:40 in arrears. He is still third overall but is 4:25 off the pace and 11secs behind Dutchman Bauke Mollema of Belkin.

Others, like 2011 champion Cadel Evans and 2010 winner Andy Schleck, began suffering with the pace being set by Froome's Australian teammate Richie Porte and are now respectively over 15 and 19 minutes adrift.

Froome became the first yellow jersey holder since the legendary five-time winner Eddy Merckx, in 1970, to triumph on the summit of the 'Giant of Provence' as the lunar-like and wind-hit Ventoux, which is 20.8km long, is known.

But, not for the first time in this race, his performance elicited comparisons with the disgraced American Lance Armstrong, who lost his seven titles after admitting to doping.

Froome has been met with scrutiny since his stunning eighth stage victory on Ax-Trois-Domaines last Sunday and his stage 15 win immediately prompted a barrage of discussion on social media sites.

But away from the rough calculations of armchair experts and the scientific data comparing Froome's time with those of other riders, the Briton said there is another, unquantifiable factor to consider.

"So much of it is on feeling," explained Froome when asked how he mustered the energy, after nearly 240km of racing, to leave Colombian climbing specialist Nairo Quintana in his wake with two kilometres to race.

"In those kind of moments when it gets really hard, personally I'm really hurting and I like to think that hopefully the other guys are also hurting a little bit, so an acceleration at that point would just be enough to distance a few guys.

"A lot of it is mental, I think. A lot of it is mental warfare; who can dig deeper, who can suffer more. I can't really say those kinds of things are calculated.

"It's got to be more on feeling and as the race unfolds you've got to make that decision."

Froome's heroics gave him his fourth win on the race, and although he has given Mollema and Contador a huge task in the week ahead, he was not left unaffected.

He required "five to ten minutes" of oxygen upon his arrival because he felt "faint and quite short of breath". "I can't remember ever taking oxygen," he said.

The summit of Ventoux sits at 1,912 metres and Froome's need for oxygen came as something of a surprise given he is one of several leading contenders to boost his victory chances by attending high altitude training camps.

But he explained: "I think it's relatively normal, given that it was a full gas effort up until the finish."

High altitude training camps — which are designed to condition the body to the exertions put on it during racing in the mountains — have become the norm for top athletes.

Froome, who looks on his way to certain victory, said: "This is really an important part of our preparation for the Tour de France. It teaches our bodies to be able to perform at altitude at the end of stages like this after 200 kilometres.

"It gets us ready for this kind of test."