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SBD Global/August 14, 2013/Franchises

AS Monaco's Spending Spree Doesn't Help In Tax Battle With French Football Authorities

After two seasons of toiling in the second tier of French football, AS Monaco marked its return to the elite Ligue 1, according to Joshua Robinson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The club is one of the few teams in French football history "to earn promotion to the top tier one season and immediately have title aspirations the next." The reason is that Monaco "was acquired by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev." The takeover, combined with the principality's status as a tax haven, "has put the club in tug-of-war" with the French football authorities, which believe "the club now has an unfair financial advantage." Monaco's "biggest battle this year won't be for silverware." It "will be for the right to play in France at all." Unless the club relocates its tax base to France, the league "has threatened to suspend it from next June, sparking a debate over attitudes to foreign investment" in French football. Monaco "prepared for its return to the top tier by splashing money around like few clubs can afford to do." Remolding its squad, it spent about $200M "on a list of players that included James Rodriguez and João Moutinho." The "dispute started after the league announced in March" that from the beginning of the '14-15 season, every club "would need to be based in France for tax purposes." Monaco "questioned the timing of this change." The club pointed out that "it just so happened to coincide with the club's promotion to the top tier for the first time since it acquired serious financial muscle" (WSJ, 8/12).
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