Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem.

Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem. © BELGA

Finance Minister Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V) has added water to the file concerning the favorable regimes in Belgian football. Instead of 4 million, the clubs will be able to receive 12 million in subsidies in the future. The question now is whether his plan is in accordance with European rules.

In October, the De Croo government reached an agreement on curtailing the favorable regimes in Belgian football. The government wants to raise 43 million euros, partly by increasing the social security contributions from professional football players. That should yield a total of 30 million. Three million is hoped to be collected through, among other things, a heavier tax on brokerage transactions. And another ten million would have to come from a reworking of the payroll tax system. In the future, the clubs could receive a maximum of 4 million euros in subsidies, 2 million for the training of youth players and 2 million for investments in the stadium.

In his opposition to Van Peteghem’s first proposal, professional football received the support of coalition partners Open VLD and MR. The proposal would raise much more than the intended 10 million. After talks with the sector, Minister Van Peteghem has The time has now made a new proposal in which he raises the limits. Instead of 4 million, the clubs will be able to receive 12 million in subsidies, 6 million for youth training and 6 million for infrastructure. And the conditions were also planed.

Legally correct?

Still according to The time After criticism from the Council of State, the condition was deleted that the tax discount for the youth academy could only be used for players who had been trained in their own youth for at least four years. This is limited to 86,592 euros gross per player. The consequence of this reform will therefore still be that top clubs will have less room to spend their tax subsidies on the wages of top players. However, the question is whether this is legally possible.

In the past, the subsidy scheme for the sports sector was never notified to the European Commission as state aid. That should not happen by opting for a ceiling of 4 million. Now that that ceiling is being raised, it is to be expected that in the future Belgium will expose itself to questions and comments from the European Commission and perhaps even to demands to reclaim the aid given.

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