Monaco: A tax heaven for footballers

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I cannot think of a single footballer, trainer, and manager or come to that anyone who is involved in the world of football who would not jump at the chance of living and working in Monaco.

First of all the location is spectacular right in the heart of the French Riviera on the Mediterranean coast with Ferrari dealerships and high-end boutiques nestled around the famous Monte Carlo casino and a state-of-the-art marina where the super-rich can moor their yachts. Monaco is a magnet for some of the world’s wealthiest people due to the fact that none French nationals are not required to pay income tax.

The tiny country that you can walk across in 45 minutes has a population of only 35,427 which represent 125 different nationalities. Monaco has always been famous for its tennis tournament and formula one grand prix that takes place on the main streets, but up until recently had you heard about Monaco’s football team. To be honest not many people really cared when the club was struggling in the French second division playing in front of if they were lucky 5,000 spectators while bigger clubs down the road like Olympic Marseille averaged 40,000 the season before last.

Things changed for Monaco in 2011 when Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev (worth $9.1 billion, according to Forbes) decided to help his adoptive country by buying their struggling football team. He immediately went out and hired Italian trainer Claudio Ranieri giving him the order to take tiny Monaco back up to the top-fight in French Football Ligue 1, which Ranieri did his first season in charge.

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All of a sudden all of the other teams in Ligue 1 started to cry foul except for Paris Saint-Germain who have bottomless pockets when it comes to cash as they are for all events and purposes owned by the oil-rich country of Qatar. All of the other teams are up in arms saying that it is not fair for them to compete with a club that can offer its players tax-free wages when in France the socialist government is talking about anyone earning over one million euros a year will be subject to a 75% tax levy.

In March of this year the French footballing authority’s decided that all of the clubs in the French leagues should be subjected to the same tax rate giving Monaco the option of either moving the team’s headquarters to France or paying a one-off fee of 200 million euros before the 1st of June 2014, and if they did not comply they would be excluded from French football.

Monaco’s initial reply was that if that was the case they would just apply to play in Italy’s Serie A, stating that Italy was just 45 miles down the coast. The Uefa president, Michel Platini, showed his surprise at the French League’s militant approach saying “I find it a little difficult to understand, it’s as if French football always liked Monaco so long as they didn’t win.”

Monaco said: “The club intends to show that the decision of the LFP imposed on AS Monaco, forcing it to move its headquarters to France, violates several fundamental principles of French and European law, notably the principle of free movement, free competition, free access to sporting competitions, and also the Franco-Monégasque tax convention signed on the 18 February 1963.”

If you ask a lawyer if the French League can win its case they will most probably tell you no as a precedent had already been set when in 2011 French side Evian wanted to move its team to nearby Geneva in Switzerland only for UEFA to issue a ruling saying that a clubs football ground, and its registered location need to be in the same place.

Monaco play in the 18,500 Stade Louis II located in the Fontvieille district of Monaco, and should be allowed to shake up the malaise of French football looking like a serious challenger to PSG next season after acquiring Columbian international striker Radamel Falcao from Atletico Madrid along with compatriot James Rodriguez, Portuguese Joao Moutinho, along Eric Abidal and Jeremy Toulalan in a 128€ million show of force.

Other tax-free countries

If you are currently involved in the world of professional football, yet cannot land that dream job with Monaco there are a few other tax-free countries you might want to consider, but sadly other than working for the national teams you would not be able to find a club side that would probably hire you with the following countries in no particular order all being tax free.

  1. United Arab Emirates

  2. Qatar

  3. Oman

  4. Kuwait

  5. Bahrain

  6. The Cayman Islands

  7. The Bahamas

  8. Bermuda

  9. Saudi Arabia

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I have probably missed a few but they are hardly up there when it comes to football except for Qatar that own PSG and Manchester City.

As for Monaco they are never going to make enough money from the attendance at matches but could very well generate a huge fan base outside of the country who will tune in to watch some of the world’s best footballers compete for the French Ligue title or at least a spot in next year’s Champions League. With all these billionaire owners taking over teams just how far away do you think we are from seeing the birth of a new European Super League?

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