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.
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.