Europe news

Monaco's financial 'fairness' questioned

December 10, 2012
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Jean-Pierre Louvel, the influential and respected president of the Union of Professional French Clubs (UCPF), has suggested Monaco's unique place in French football should again be looked at as it raises "an enormous problem of fairness".

Stade Louis II Monaco stadium
PA PhotosMonaco's footballers are subject to different tax laws to the rest of the players in the French league

Though a principality, Monaco's football club has played under the auspices of the French FA (FFF) since its foundation in 1919. However, the principality's income tax legislation, which stretches back to 1869, means foreigners do not pay tax on their earnings, giving Monaco far more room to manoeuvre when bringing in talent from abroad.

"It's a sensitive issue, but when Monaco invest €20 million on a player, another club has to invest €50 million for the same player. With the introduction of a 75% rate of income tax [in France, on earnings over €1 million], it will be three times that," said Louvel, who is also the president of Monaco's Ligue 2 rivals, Le Havre.

"Ligue 1 will be dominated by Monaco and PSG. There's an enormous problem of fairness. Perhaps Monaco should declare its headquarters are based in France."

While this issue is only likely to become more heated with the Ligue 2 pacesetters, coached by Claudio Ranieri, seemingly on track for a return to the top flight, Louvel also believes all French clubs need to get their act together in trimming spiralling player wages.

"For the stars, the market dictates, but football can no longer afford to do any old thing," he said. "When a mediocre player is paid €150,000 a month, there's a problem. When the brothers of a 16-year-old ask you for €400,000 when a contract is signed, and they manage to get them abroad, is that what we should be teaching people to do?

"I'm a liberal, but not everything goes. We're totally overheating. It's going to explode. We could regulate it, but it's not only up to us. It's a political and global problem."