French soccer clubs postpone planned strike

PARIS Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:42am EST

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PARIS (Reuters) - French soccer clubs have postponed a strike planned for the end of this month to protest against a controversial French super tax on million-euro salaries, the Union of Professional Football Clubs (UCPF) said on Thursday.

President Francois Hollande said last month there would be no exemption for soccer clubs from the tax. UCPF President Jean-Pierre Louvel said in a statement the clubs wanted to discuss how the future of soccer would be preserved.

"We decided to put off the day of action and come back to talks on 'sustainable football'," Louvel said of talks on the sector being mediated by a senior Socialist ally of Hollande.

Soccer clubs in France's top two divisions had called a strike for the last weekend in November - the first such industrial action since French league players protested about their contracts in 1972.

Fourteen of the 20 Ligue 1 clubs are to be affected by the tax on 2013 and 2014 salaries, including Qatar-funded Paris St Germain. Players at Monaco, backed by a Russian billionaire, will be exempt as they do not fall under French tax laws.

PSG, who have spent more than 200 million euros ($268 million) on transfers since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, are expected to pay some 20 million euros - just under half of the total the clubs would pay annually.

A poll of 961 people by Tilder-LCI-OpinionWay last month showed that 85 per cent of those asked do not want the football clubs to be exempt from the tax.

($1 = 0.7460 euros)

(Reporting by Clemence Apetogbor and Sophie Louet; Writing by Mark John; Editing by James Regan)

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