The French Football League (LFP) has hailed the news that the country’s top constitutional body has rejected plans by the Socialist government to introduce a controversial ‘super tax’ that League president Frederic Thiriez had previously warned could lead to the “death of French football”.
The government of President Francois Hollande had sought to introduce a 75% upper income tax rate that would have applied to anyone earning in excess of Eur1 million per year. The new tax was seen as a means to aid the ailing French economy, but the LFP had repeatedly expressed its concern that its effect on a host of Ligue 1’s top stars could have led to a talent drain from France’s top flight.
France’s Constitutional Council ruled the temporary two-year tax rate, which had been due to take effect next year, was unconstitutional because it differed from other forms of income tax through its application to individuals instead of whole households. Thiriez said the Council had listened to the views of the policy’s opponents, including the LFP and its ruling averted a “grave threat to the future” of the professional game in France. “Professional football did the right thing in fighting (the measure),” said Thiriez. “Right from the start we had sounded the alarm on the dangers of such taxation – dangers for French football with disastrous consequences for clubs.”
The government is now expected to come back with a new measure that will conform to the constitution but chairman of the clubs’ union UCPF, Jean-Pierre Louvel, told AFP it had been “important to rule this tax offside”. Louvel said “aside from PSG (bankrolled by its Qatari owners) no club has the wherewithal to pay this tax” hence there would have been an “outflow of talent.”