PARIS: French clubs intend to go on strike on the last weekend of November in an unprecedented reaction against President Francois Hollande’s super-tax proposal writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The sight of clubs, financed by wealthy sponsorship and television contracts, making such a gesture in the current economic and social climate is likely to prove controversial.
Hollande’s own, simultaneous, comments in Brussels did not suggest he was in any mood to compromise.
The club presidents have agreed so far ‘in principle’ not to stage matches in the top two divisions on the weekend of November 30 in opposition to the proposal for a 75pc tax rate for those people earning more than E1m.
Jean-Pierre Louvel, president of the clubs’ association, said: “There will be no matches that weekend when the clubs’ doors will be wide open.”
The date is close to the parliamentary vote on the 2014 Finance Law planned for the start of December. The clubs decided against calling a strike for this immediate weekend as some wished.
French league president Frederic Thiriez said he approved of the solidarity among the club “in wishing to protect French football which represents 25,000 employees.”
The players’ union and coaches’ association have both registered complaints with Minister of Sports Valérie Fourneyron and Hollande is expected to discuss the issue next week at a meeting requested by French federation president Noël Le Graët.
Louvel added: “Professional football in France pays E750m in tax, another E130m assistance to grassroots football and many other social and community projects.”
The tax, proposed for application over two years and up to a value of 5pc of turnover, would affect 13 top division clubs and raise an estimated E44m, of which almost half (E20m) would be due from champions Paris Saint-Germain.
The main matches on the strike weekend are PSG v Lyon and Monaco v Rennes. The last time the French league was hit by a strike was in 1972.
Hollande, at a press conference in Brussels, indicated he had agreed to meet Le Graet out of good manners rather than concern.
He said: “When the tax law is voted, the law will be the same for all companies regardless of what they are. This does not stop us from having a dialogue on the difficulties facing professional clubs, but everyone needs to be aware of the rules.”
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been cautioned and reminded about his conduct after fearing a a ban for pointing a pretend gun at the Toulouse bench in a league game last month. H had made the gesture on being substituted.
Ibrahimovic, who has scored five league goals this season, scored four in PSG’s 5-0 thrashing of Anderlecht in Brussels on Wednesday in the Champions League.