Anderlecht chairman Wouter Vandenhaute: “The new law...

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“A cry for help”. That is how Wouter Vandenhaute calls his argument in Het Laatste Nieuws about the bill for new tax rules in sport. He fears that the government underestimates its impact and that some rules will even backfire. “The message we give is this: let us pay the 43 million, but then give us the time to reorganize ourselves”, says the Anderlecht chairman.

Wim Conings

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Vandenhaute fears that the government underestimates how severe the impact of the rules will be, although he says he can understand the need to cut the tax benefits of football. However, he hopes nothing is rushed. “We have understood your signal and next year, with a fresh look, when the dust has settled, let us see whether we can make a global arrangement in which we take everything together: both the RSZ and the withholding tax and the social role of the football. Which the Minister of Sport is also actively involved in, because he is now — due to the complexity of this country — completely sidelined,” he says.

Vandenhaute also claims that instead of more Belgians on our fields, the new rules could result in just the opposite: more cheap foreigners. “The new proposal will only increase the temptation to attract cheap foreigners, because we can no longer bring in the contracts we give to youth players, nor all the costs we incur to transport all those players and small players, and mentally and at school.”

Clubs themselves are also to blame

But the Anderlecht strong man is also strict with the football world itself. He criticizes the fact that the clubs have not worked together for far too long, have failed to respond proactively to the impending change in the law and have “thought for far too long that they would get away with it”. Apparently the idea was alive that CEO of the Pro League Pierre François would solve everything through his good friendship with MR chairman Pierre François. Vandenhaute demonstrates with an anecdote: “On the day that the decision was made that the tax authorities would collect 43 million euros in football, Pierre François sent an email to all clubs — with the best intentions — to thank Georges-Louis Bouchez for all efforts. That says everything about the old culture we are in.”

The new bill from Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem will be submitted to the Council of Ministers on Friday. The new rules should come into effect from January 1.

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