French clubs warned over strike threat
French Sports Minister Valerie Fourneyron has told football clubs they risk a public backlash if they strike in protest at the proposed 75 percent rate of income tax on all income earning more than 1 million euros a year.
Following a meeting of its executive committee earlier this week, the UCPF -- the union of professional clubs in the top two French divisions -- will hold an extraordinary general assembly next week to explore its options.
If the government's proposed tax rate becomes law, the clubs, rather than the players, would be footing the bill. They argue that the 75 percent rate would have a catastrophic knock-on effect beyond the 15 top-flight sides.
Reports in the French media have said one of the potential counter-measures could be a strike that would affect Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 games scheduled for Oct. 26 and 27.
"I would be desperately sorry if it comes to that," Fourneyron, 54, told reporters at a news conference.
"At a time when all French people are making an effort to get our country back on its feet in the fight against unemployment, they would not understand that the whole of professional football, which is seen as a privileged sector, does not participate in this collective effort."
Jean-Pierre Louvel, the UCPF and Le Havre president, said a strike was not certain to happen. "What was decided was to say unanimously that we were against this tax because it has a negative impact on the whole of the football world," Le Parisien quoted him as saying.
Philippe Piat, the president of the National Union of Professional Footballers (UNFP) told L'Equipe he believed a strike was likely to go ahead, and that his members would support it.
"Normally, when the players want to strike, they receive all kinds of threats," he said. "But here, as it's the employers, they have all the cards in hand. It's very probable that this strike will happen. We'll show our solidarity with the clubs and follow them.
"Anyway, the players can't play by themselves. It wouldn't only be a question of solidarity but also one of principle. Should you just keep your head down and accept everything? No."
The tax rate, which would apply only for 2014 and 2015, would bring the French state an additional 44 million euros from football clubs, according to a study carried out by the French Football League (LFP), reported in Le Parisien. Paris Saint-Germain would account for some 20 million euros of that sum.
Principality club Monaco, who are not subject to French taxation law, are currently exempt but face exclusion by the LFP if they are not based in France for tax purposes by the end of the current season.