Premier League tax hoopla – no foul, no penalty, says HMRC.

English football was well and truly dragged through the mud this summer, and the latest attempt to slur the game has arrived in the form of allegations by the press over the Premier League’s tax arrangements.

The Mail has claimed that HMRC stuck a “secret deal” with the clubs in this most lucrative of leagues, in order that they would be able to pay a fifth of the players’ wages to the companies that manage their image rights.

The Premier League, however, responded by stating that the arrangement has been in place for years and is completely legal and transparent.  Their statement read:

“Image rights as a source of income are established and recognised in the UK and around the world… the tax paid by Premier League players is both substantial and transparent.  The latest available figures from the 2014-15 season show that £891m was paid directly by players as part of an overall contribution to the Exchequer of £2.4bn a year from Premier League activity.”

Simply put, the arrangement is completely legal, and represents a sensible approach to financial planning.  As the Premier League continued to point out:

“The Premier League worked with HMRC to agree how to tax the small proportion of their overall income attributable to image rights.

Nothing new to report as Premier League goes from strength to strength.

Even HMRC were able to come out firing and make a clean breast of things:

“HMRC does not do deals. Image rights payments are always taxable…” said a spokesman.

Indeed, image rights have been established for many years as a source of income for elite sportsmen and other celebrities.

Furthermore, the accountancy firm Deloitte, has provided information that shows that six of the biggest clubs, Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool together paid wages of £1.08billion in 2014/15.  That represents a substantial contribution to the nation’s coffers, and the entire economy to boot (pun intended).

The Premier League thus remains one of the most high profile and lucrative sporting concerns in the world, generating enormous revenue for the Treasury and flying the flag for British sport.  Moreover, this year boasting the top coaches in the world, it is moving firmly from strength to strength.

It’s all just a storm in a teacup.

So here we have yet another media hoopla drummed up by a small section of the red-tops. Their so-called “journalism” claims the support of a small clique of “experts” that they have wheeled out to bang dustbin lids, along with a sprinkling of opposition MPs eager to get noticed on the trendy bandwagon of tax-dodger bashing.

However, the story does not bear up to the slightest scrutiny, and as such, the whole topic has been ignored by the rest of the media.  The Premier League and HMRC have been able to comfortably field the reports by simply citing the figures and rules that are transparent to all.