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Hollande to meet clubs over tax hike

France's professional clubs have welcomed President Francois Hollande's decision to sit down and discuss his proposal to levy a potentially crippling 75 percent tax on all income over one million euros.

Francois Hollande had planned to tax the highest earners at 75%.
Hollande's election campaign included a pledge to increase taxation of France's highest earners.

The measure, which will apply to revenue in 2013 and 2014, will bring the state an estimated extra 44 million euros from France's clubs, with some 15 directly affected. 

However, the professional club's union, the UCPF, argues the measure will prove catastrophic for the sport in the country as a whole and having announced they will go on strike during the weekend of Nov. 30 if the proposal is not modified, they published an open letter in Sunday's L'Equipe and the Journal du Dimanche that begged Hollande: "Don't let French football die."

Hollande has agreed to meet representatives of clubs on Thursday, and UCPF president Jean-Pierre Louvel told RMC the head of state's offer of talks was a positive step.

"I think if he is willing to see us it's because there is a desire to try and discuss. If it's to try and fully understand football's current problems and try to find solutions, then we're open to discussion. We didn't say that we rejected the tax, we said that we reject it in its current form," Louvel told RMC, adding the open letter had been an attempt to not only alert Hollande to the scale of the problem, but also try to alter the general public's perception of the issue.

"People talk about the rich, people who earn a lot of money, but the reality is not that which we are going through and that's why we want to explain what the reality is. It's not a fight to defend the rich, nor to defend the privileged, on the contrary. It's a fight to keep the equilibrium in football, which is indispensable if we want to be competitive."

The main talking point is the timeline for the application of the tax. While the state, which has already said it will limit club's contributions to a percentage of their turnover, wants the measure to apply to current revenue, clubs argue their specific position as employers of players on fixed-term contracts which have already been negotiated needs to be taken into account.

"The problem is that the players have fixed-term contracts that the clubs had them sign when they did not know about this tax. The retroactive aspect of the tax is crucial because today we are prisoners of fixed-term contracts with the duration and sums fixed," Louvel said.

"It only should be applied only to new contracts. That means that clubs who want to bring in a player on a salary of more than a million euros know that when they sign him, there is a tax to be paid."

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