181 Taxman's Questions for Every Major Football Club; REVEALED: Full Astonishing Extent of the Perks Probe into Soccer's Super-Rich Players

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 8, 2012 | Go to article overview

181 Taxman's Questions for Every Major Football Club; REVEALED: Full Astonishing Extent of the Perks Probe into Soccer's Super-Rich Players


Byline: Robert Verkaik

THE full extent of the taxman's investigation into top footballers and their clubs has been revealed in a secret document leaked to The Mail on Sunday.

Last week this newspaper disclosed that HM Revenue & Customs is probing secret perks lavished on stars by their employers.

But now a questionnaire sent to financial directors of top clubs details how they are also targeting every aspect of operations - including payments to stars' wives and girlfriends and whether foreign stars are avoiding tax.

The 16-page Football Clubs Employment Issues Questionnaire poses 181 detailed questions relating to the payment of players, such as Wayne Rooney, who commands a [pounds sterling]13million salary, and John Terry, who earns [pounds sterling]7 million, as well as the finances of all the elite clubs.

The document demands details including:

Whether players' wives and girlfriends ended upon the club's payrol

How match tickets are given to players and their families and the extent of the use of stadium corporate hospitality.

Accounting procedures for testimonial matches, which can rake in up to [pounds sterling]2 million for an individual player.

If clubs pay foreign stars differently from British players.

The breadth of the investigation has surprised experts. Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, said: 'These are very detailed questions which go to the heart of the business of a football club.

'The taxman may have decided the clubs are high-risk in terms of tax and they are trawling through everything they can think of which might have a tax impact at a football club.'

The questionnaire also probes the role of agents and the proper declaration of sponsorship deals in which footballers are given free merchandising or luxury cars.

The Revenue hopes to recoup millions of pounds in unpaid taxes. The document has been prepared by senior inspectors who have spent months gathering 'intelligence' on clubs and their stars.

Even Christmas parties, such as Manchester City's extravagant event at the Anaya club in London, face scrutiny. The HMRC asks: 'Is there an annual function for staff, such as a Christmas party? If so please provide details.'

It also asks: 'Has the club granted any player a monetary consideration in lieu of a testimonial to which he was eligible? …

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