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Monaco owner receives Ligue 1 backing

French Football League president Frederic Thiriez has vowed to do all he can to keep Monaco's Russian billionaire owner Dmitri Rybolovlev in French football despite the ongoing fiscal row between the LFP and the principality club.

Newly-promoted to Ligue 1 after a two-year absence, Monaco have taken the LFP to court over the body's decision to oblige all clubs participating in its competitions to be based in France for tax purposes by June 1, 2014, a move which would nullify Monaco's current privileged financial position within the game. Currently, foreigners pay no income tax in the principality while the club's state contributions are some 20% lower than those of their Ligue 1 rivals, which contributes to a player costing a French-based counterpart three times more than those plying their trade at the Stade Louis II.

Though still firmly behind the decision, Thiriez told RMC that Rybolovlev, who has already spent some €130 million of his vast fortune to strengthen Monaco's squad this summer, must not be made to feel victimised.

"I respect Mr Rybolovlev, who I met recently, immensely. We even got on well. I understand his point of view, but I have mine. I think he's a serious, long-term investor in Monaco. It's not just a flash in the pan. He has a long-term project and I'll do all I can that he's not discouraged."

Last week's hearing at the Conseil d'Etat, France's highest court for administrative issues, produced an initial decision which rejected Monaco's request to have the LFP decision suspended.

A definitive ruling on the matter, which was already discussed in length with Monaco during the 2003-04 season, is not expected until the autumn. Thiriez, who rubbished suggestions rival clubs would boycott Monaco games as some Ligue 1 presidents have suggested, said the court's judgement would encourage the LFP in their course of action.

"Everyone's happy that they're back in Ligue 1. It's very good news for French football, the standard of the league and everything that goes with it: the number of fans going to games and TV audiences. But you cannot deny there is a problem of fairness with regard to other clubs. We've calculated that Monaco's unique fiscal status gives them an advantage of €50 million-a-year.

"It's the equivalent to the budget of a club like Montpellier so we're not talking about a small sum. The League has decided the club should be subject to France's fiscal laws. The Conseil d'Etat did not find we were wrong and rather proved us right."

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