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Football clubs receive their whistle at home: Prime Minister De Croo...

Football clubs receive their whistle at home: Prime Minister De Croo…


The professional clubs won their battle. Being Finance Minister Vincent van Bettieghem (CD&V) he was called up by Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo (Open VLD) in the dossier of tax benefits for sports clubs.

Earlier this week, Van Peteghem launched his plan to scrap the 80 per cent withholding tax refund for professional sports clubs and replace it with another system, which will cost clubs more money and benefit the state more. He wanted the maximum tax benefits for each club to be limited to 12 million euros, money that could only be used for youth and infrastructure. Van Betteghem wanted to reform the system arguing that Europe would not allow such tax advantages.

© Matteo Cogliatti

Anderlecht and Club Brugge

But in the Cabinet, the Prime Minister whistled for Van Bettieghem. Van Betegem’s argument that Europe will not allow this has been undermined by the European Union, which has just declared that the sport needs additional support. Something the government has already pursued in the Netherlands, where it has paid 36 million to professional clubs because they have to play in empty stadiums again. Van Beeteghem’s closet doesn’t do well here.

Professional football, for its part, breathes a sigh of relief. Both Anderlecht and Club Brugge were the engine behind this modification. They feared a bloodbath if Van Bettigham’s original plan had survived. So 43 million euros is still a tax benefit that professional clubs must concede. These are found at 30 million through social security contributions and 13 million euros with the indicated adjustment for withholding tax refunds.

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Instead of a 50 percent commitment to spending on youth from withholding tax refunds, this should now be 55 percent. This is not a final settlement, but it does appear from a political angle. In consultation with the professional clubs, a new procedure will be developed under which the government will closely monitor that part of the withholding tax already paid goes to investments in youth and infrastructure.