French President Francois Hollande has hit back at criticism from the country’s football industry over his proposed ‘super tax’ plans by insisting that no sectors will be exempt from the new regulations.
Hollande’s comments come after Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs called a strike for the weekend of November 29 to December 2 as the long-running dispute over the super tax came to a head on Thursday. A meeting of the Union of Professional Football Clubs saw clubs address the issue and draw up a campaign entitled ‘Football in Danger – all together’. Hollande’s government has long sought to introduce a 75% upper income tax rate that will apply to anyone earning in excess of Eur1 million per year. Top clubs claim that the law will add up to Eur20 million to their tax bill.
Hollande has accepted a request to meet French Football Federation president Noel le Graet over the tax, but said he sees no need to create an exception. “When the tax law is voted, the law will be the same for all companies regardless of what they are,” said Hollande, according to Reuters. “This does not stop us from having a dialogue on the difficulties facing professional clubs, but everyone needs to be aware of the rules.”
Meanwhile Lille president Michel Seydoux has reiterated the concerns of French football over the financial impact of the new law, maintaining that it will be the clubs, not the players, who will be affected. “I understand that the public might be surprised by the players’ wages,” Seydoux told Le Parisien newspaper. “But it’s their employers, the clubs, who will be taxed, not the players. If you had said to me that we were going to be taxed on our profits, I would have accepted that. But you can’t tax us on our losses. It’s totally sinful and scandalous.” Seydoux said that only Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain and Russian-backed AS Monaco could cope with the regulations. He added in L’Equipe: “In what country in the world do they make employers of loss-making companies pay the wages of their employees? This tax will cost us another Eur4.8 million to Eur7.2 million. In the last three years our expenses have already risen by 15%. We’re fed up. We’re once again going to be forced to sell our best players.”