AS Monaco – A New Empire or A Passing Gimmick?

It’s impossible to tell at the moment what the future holds for Monaco, the Ligue 2 champions who might not be able to play in the top flight in France next season, despite their very impressive early haul of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho and Ricardo Carvalho thanks to the funding of Russian Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Rybolovlev made his money through OJSC Uralkali (sold it), a company that posted a profit of $1.6 billion in 2012 thanks to its huge market share in the Potash Fertilizer business. But enough about outside economics. Rybolovlev wants to build on empire on in Moncao, trying to make the most of its Tax Haven status, which is the eye of the storm that is so far denying Monaco an entry to Ligue 1 next season.

Dmitry Rybolovlev

Is this a case of fair play, or simply the other French clubs trying to extort money from those with deep pockets? PSG didn’t have to go through all this when they began their Qatari adventure which has gone very well for them, but they’re based in Paris, while Monaco is everything the French president and his “tax the rich” policies stand against. Monaco has never had this problem before, but they’ve never been such a threat to the French league before in terms of economic power.

The French clubs, assisted by the Ligue Professionnel de Football (LFP), decided to move soon, back in March, and restrict admission into the league of clubs whose headquarters is located in France for tax purposes. Monaco would be forced to give up their special status which is actually determined by old agreements (Franco-Monégasque tax convention signed on the 18 February 1963), or simply not play in the top flight.

The French FA tried to make amends, and reached an offer in which Monaco will play the rest of the clubs in the league €200 million over the next six to seven seasons in order to turn a blind eye on their “special status”, but that is something Rybolovlev will not kneel down to, feeling he is being hustled. He began moving in two directions: The legal course, that might take months more to resolve, and the financial one.

AS Monaco with the Prince

Early on, Monaco thought about “helping” French clubs by signing players from around the league: Serge Aurier (Toulouse), Rémy Cabella (Montpellier), Aurélien Chedjou (Lille), Sébastien Corchia (Sochaux), Maxime Gonalons (Lyon), Nicolas Isimat-Mirin (Valenciennes) and Lisandro López (Lyon), according to France Football, were all on the wish list. But since the turn of events with the French clubs, they’ve moved on to foreign pastures.

Lyon’s president, usually a man who knows what he’s talking about, thinks that the league is missing an opportunity with Monaco, a chance to help certain French clubs improve their finances. Instead of restricting Monaco from playing, simply force them to play a quota of French players, which sounds like a pretty sound solution to many, but still hasn’t gotten through to the decision makers on both ends of the battle field.

For now, Monaco are a threat to any team trying to sign a top player. They’ve spent €135 million in less than a week on players that suddenly fear they won’t be able to play in the top flight next season, or anywhere at all possibly. Moncao have approached the Series A, but for now there’s no news on that front, in one of the most ambitious yet polarizing footballing endeavors of the last few years.