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Brussels, 25 April 2001

Commission does not object to subsidies for French professional sports clubs

The European Commission decided on Wednesday not to object to a public subsidy scheme for professional sports clubs, notified by France, since the subsidies do not constitute state aid under the EC Treaty. It was clear from an examination of the notification that the measures are designed to assist education and initial training and as such constitute an educational or comparable scheme.

Under the scheme, French local authorities will be able to grant professional sports clubs with state-approved youth training centres public subsidies of up to € 2.3 million a year per recipient club. The sports concerned are football, basketball, rugby and volleyball. This type of education is intended by the French authorities to provide young people with an education allowing them reach the best sporting level and to reconcile sports training with a thorough education and so enable them to find an ordinary job (or, for those who take up sport professionally, to find a job at the end of their career). The provision of community facilities and the prevention of violence are other targets.

The French authorities have agreed to monitor the allocation of the subsidies closely, to prevent any overcompensation of the net cost of the training and hence any cross-subsidisation, chiefly by requiring separate accounts to be kept for training measures and for the economic activities of the professional sports clubs.

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