AS Monaco

Full Name: Association Sportive de Monaco Football Club

Nickname(s): Les Rouge et Blanc

Founded: 1924

Stadium: Stade Louis II

Chairman: Etienne Franzi

Official Website: http://www.asm-fc.com/

 

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  1. French Football: raising the bar
    So things are changing at Monaco FC. There is a new president, the international businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev; a seasoned Italian coach in Claudio Ranieri; an accomplished management team led by the dynamic Norwegian Tor-Krisitan Karlsen; and a talented group of players who are beginning to deliver real success on the pitch.
    But some things, unfortunately, do not change. And one of them is the reaction of other French clubs to their friends in the Principality.
    Last week we saw a number of presidents of other clubs, and even Frédéric Thiriez, president of the French League, raise the issue of the advantage that Monaco supposedly gains because of its tax regime. (Interesting, by the way, that Thiriez made his comments just before being re-elected. Perhaps a bit of crowd-pleasing rather than anything serious?)
    In fact, it’s hard to see how anyone could take the comments seriously. For one, it is hardly a new topic. Monaco has always played within French football structures, ever since it became a full-time professional club in the 1940s.
    Of course, nobody was complaining about Monaco’s special advantage when they were getting relegated recently, and certainly not when they were in 20th place in Ligue 2. It didn’t really help them much then did it? Certainly, you can be sure the topic is only up for discussion now the club is looking successful again.
    So it’s a pretty bogus point to make and it’s not what is behind the club’s recent improvement. The reason Monaco are looking like winners again is because there is more professional management of the team and the club, there is investment in players, and above all – there is a new confidence around the place.
    And here’s another reason the tax status argument is a red-herring: French citizens cannot benefit from zero income tax (at the insistence of the French state). But many of the greatest players in Monaco’s history have been French – the likes of Giuly, Henry, Trezeguet, Barthez, and Evra. None of them were there for the tax breaks! Nor too is the current French “spine” of the Monaco team that includes the likes of Valere Germain and Gary Coulibaly.
    But, perhaps the main reason that the tax point is nonsense is this: each club in France has its own specific advantages related to its location, its heritage and its fan base. PSG is based in the capital with a potential audience of millions; Nice is well-located to draw fans from across the Cote d’Azur; whilst Marseille and St Etienne are clubs with a well-established national following far beyond their local areas.
    Monaco does not enjoy these advantages. In fact, as any follower of French football knows, it struggles to fill Stade Louis II at the best of times – even though attendance is steadily improving. So it will never have the same revenue opportunities as some of the other clubs.
    So what do Thiriez and the other presidents actually want? A system that “handicaps” each team according to their natural advantage?! This would clearly be beyond ridiculous. Who would decide the penalties or the extra taxes to be imposed be for large crowds, big stadiums, low local tax rates, long-standing brand recognition? On what basis would they be calculated?!
    Sport is about free competition. If we allow that free competition we will get far more exciting football. That should be the goal for everyone involved in French football, and of very fan.
    The UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations will already provide a very strong test for all clubs seeking participation in European competitions (which will certainly include Monaco in the future). It would be madness to pile an extra layer of regulation on top of that.
    French football should be trying to attract the best French and footballers to play in its leagues – not create more regulation, and complex fiscal rules that will repel them.
    Unfortunately, many leading French football players – like Ribery, Evra, Benzema, Glichy – still play outside France. More regulation is not the way to tempt them back!
    Ultimately, all clubs have their unique strengths and weaknesses. Let’s accept that fact and get on with the game!

    Vive la difference!

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