Strike over tax: French govt, football clubs to hold talks


Talks will start in France this week to try to stop a planned strike by football clubs over a government plan to hit them with a high-earners tax, a source said Monday, confirming a report in online sports daily

The historic strike — planned for the last weekend of November and including clubs from France’s Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 first and second divisions — will be the first for French football since 1972.

Discussions will take place on Wednesday at the French Football Federation between industry professionals and the government’s representative, Socialist deputy Jean Glavany, the head of a working group on sustainable football.

French clubs walked away empty-handed from talks last month with Francois Hollande at which the French president refused to exempt them from a proposed 75-percent tax on high earners.

The temporary levy, which makes companies liable to pay the 75-percent tax rate for the portion of employees’ salaries above the million-euro ceiling, is a modified version of an earlier proposal aimed at individuals earning over 1 million euros.

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It is designed to help reduce France’s budget deficit.

But football clubs complain that the move will hit them especially hard because they sign players on short-term contracts. They say the tax will make it impossible to attract top-flight talent.

The industry argues that the measure will cost Ligue 1 about 44 million euros ($59 million), given the high salaries earned by about 120 players from 14 clubs.

Following the talks, the UCPF footballing union is to decide on Thursday whether to go ahead with the strike.

UCPF leader Jean-Pierre Louvel said the union welcomed the planned meeting, adding “the objective is not for this strike to go ahead but to find a solution”.