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UEFA Considering Tax On Super-Rich Football Clubs

by Robert Lee,, London

27 March 2009

UEFA, the governing body for European football, has announced this week proposals to introduce a tax on big-money transfers in order to try and support struggling clubs forced into debt by their rich, often investor-backed, counterparts.

The new scheme, which looks to level the playing field among clubs, is based on the approach adopted within America’s baseball league. The tax, if approved, will be payable by clubs playing in major European competitions and will be determined based on transfer fees, although the proposals as yet have not been outlined in any detail. UEFA was originally also looking at levying a tax on affluent clubs’ wage bills, based on overall revenue, but have since retracted that proposal.

Football is increasingly becoming a game of money, with several large clubs gaining significant financial backing from private investors, most recently visible in the case of UK club Manchester City, although rival clubs Manchester United and Chelsea have received similar financial backing. UEFA has warned that excessive expenditure, which in some cases has seen GBP100m being offered for players, is making it impossible for less fortunate clubs to keep up and remain competitive.

UEFA fears that, because of this private investor culture, less affluent clubs are being encouraged into debt in order to compete with super-rich clubs.

UEFA spokesman William Gaillard said:

“There is no simple solution, all [the proposals] have drawbacks, some worse than others. The salary caps look like they are very difficult to manage in a system where we have European competitions like the Champions League interfacing with national leagues and competitions. It would be frighteningly difficult to administer.”

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