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No result for French football clubs after Hollande tax meeting

No result for French football clubs after Hollande tax meeting
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French football officials have met the president but failed to break the deadlock in a tax dispute which could see clubs go on strike.

François Hollande remains determined to grant the sport no exemption from plans to introduce a 75 percent tax rate on top salaries of over one million euros a year.

Clubs have voted not to play one weekend’s fixtures in the top two divisions in a month’s time.

After 90 minutes at the Elysee Palace, chairmen emerged without a result.

“We still have a month to talk about it, to try to find arrangements not only for football but for all companies that will enable football to absorb this tax. It has never been in question not to pay the tax,” said Jean-Pierre Louvel, President of the Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF).

“We’re listening to to them (the clubs) but we will stand firm because this proposal has been voted upon already and will have to be applied the same way it does to all French companies,” said Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Budget Minister.

Fourteen of the 20 Ligue 1 clubs will be affected by the tax.

Already struggling to compete with foreign leagues, French clubs argue they rather than players will pay millions in extra tax.

One estimate based on pay of the top 120 players at the 14 affected clubs reportedly said the 75 percent tax would cost Ligue 1 a total of 44 million euros a year.

The Qatar-funded Paris Saint Germain may be worst-hit by the tax, but opinion polls suggest it has little public sympathy. A survey by pollster OpinionWay in October suggested 85 percent of voters did not think football clubs should be exempted.

The threatened strike between November 29 and December 2 would be the first in French football since 1972.

Memories are still fresh in France of their international players’ training ground strike at Knysna in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup.

Some are predicting a vociferous public reaction should clubs refuse to play matches. One coach, Pascal Dupraz of Evian, said that in the event of a strike “we’ll really have to hide.”

One club, Monaco – backed by a Russian billionaire – will be exempt as French tax laws do not apply in the principality.

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