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France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs have called a strike for the weekend of November 29 to December 2 as the long-running dispute over the government’s proposed ‘super tax’ came to a head on Thursday.

France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs have called a strike for the weekend of November 29 to December 2 as the long-running dispute over the government’s proposed ‘super tax’ came to a head on Thursday.

A meeting of the Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) saw clubs address the issue and draw up a campaign entitled ‘Football in Danger – all together’. France’s Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron last week warned Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs against strike action over the proposal, stating that the French public would not support such measures. The government of President Francois Hollande has long sought to introduce a 75% upper income tax rate that will apply to anyone earning in excess of Eur1 million per year. The new tax is seen as a means to aid the ailing French economy, but the French Football League (LFP), which has given its full backing to the strike action, and clubs have repeatedly expressed their concern that its effect on a host of Ligue 1’s top stars could lead to a talent drain from France’s top flight. Jean-Pierre Louvel, president of the UCPF, said: “We want, as part of the day ‘Football in Danger, all together,’ to open the stage to all the fans, football lovers – the people who are part of French football on an everyday basis. [This is for] the fans, amateur players, associations, volunteers, educators, coaches and employees – all those who will bear the brunt of this unfair tax. It is the social role of football that will be affected by the consequences of this measure. This is an opportunity for the silent majority of French football to express its opposition.”

Representatives of the clubs are set to meet with Hollande next week to further discuss a solution to the current situation. Louvel has not dismissed the possibility of further action being taken after the weekend of cancelled games. The UCPF said the proposed tax is projected to cost the French professional game Eur44 million a year. The union added French football already misses out on Eur50 million per year in collective image rights and pays Eur130 million in solidarity fees for amateur sports on an annual basis. A first reading of the proposal, which is included in the 2014 Finance Bill, was passed by the French parliament last week and is expected to be voted on in late November or early December.  While the tax is set to have the greatest impact on the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco, it is expected that costs to the players will be offset by the big-spending club’s respective Qatari and Russian owners. Instead, it is likely to most impact on those clubs directly challenging the two financial heavyweights of French football.

Saint-Etienne president Bernard Caizzo told the Associated Press: “Most of the clubs don’t make money, they lose money. So how is it possible for the clubs to pay taxes when they don’t have money left? This is the big point. Instead of players paying tax, they want the clubs to pay the tax. French football is the most (taxed) in Europe, when we get Eur100, we pay Eur70 to the state. Not in England, not in Germany, not in Italy, not in Spain. Many clubs won’t be able to afford this and could disappear.”

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