By Andrew Warshaw
Published on Friday, 14 February 2014 09:55
February 14 - The bitter row over Monaco's special tax status in French football has intensified after seven other top-flight teams, including arch-rivals Paris St. Germain, threatened to take legal action, leaving the principality club "astounded".
Monaco have been playing in the French league for nearly a century and were Champions League runners up in 2004, but were outraged a year ago when France's Ligue Professionelle de Football (LFP) voted to kick them out unless they relocated their headquarters across the border to France by June this year.
As a compromise, Monaco, owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, recently agreed to pay €50 million to the LFP as part of a deal that would "guarantee the club their participation in the championship while keeping their headquarters in the principality".
But the seven clubs - Bordeaux, Ligue 2 Caen, Lille, Lorient, Olympique Marseille, Montpellier and Paris St Germain - argue that last month's deal was "rushed and non- transparent" and did not "respect some basic law principles", saying they would now bring the case to court.
Despite poor crowds, second-placed Monaco, who are five points behind PSG, regularly attract top overseas players who, like other foreigners under the principality's laws, do not pay tax on their wages. As a result they are exempt from the French government's controversial 75€ tax rate on earnings over €1 million, for which other professional clubs are liable, leading to festering resentment that Monaco have an unfair advantage and a privileged position.
But the club were furious that they are still being singled out despite the recent compromise agreement.
"Democracy has always been the guide rule in French football. The talks with the LFP took place within a legal framework and the deal was voted in by a large majority," they were quoted as saying. "All we can say is that we are astounded that it is challenged a few days later."
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