HMRC warns Manchester City that it will be ruthless in the pursuit of & # 39; club if they have tried to avoid tax
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said it will be ruthless in the pursuit of & # 39; Manchester City, or another football club, if they have tried to avoid paying their reasonable share of the tax.
In the past week, the German magazine Der Spiegel has made a series of accusations about the finances of the Premier League champions.
Referring to documents and private e-mails from the Football Leaks whistleblowing group, Der Spiegel has painted a picture of a club that has reportedly been trying to bypass the financial Fair Play rules (FFP) of European football over the last six years .
Manchester City is "haunted" ruthlessly & # 39; if they do not pay their taxes
According to the magazine, the town's owner, Sheikh Mansour, a member of Abu Dhabi's royal family, pumped nearly £ 2 billion into the club, most of which reportedly inflated sponsorship agreements with Gulf companies.
Der Spiegel also claimed that City artificially reduced its costs by selling the image rights of the players to a third party, but only to compensate the annual losses of that company with hidden payments from the parent company of the club.
And in another measure that might interest HMRC & # 39; s, the magazine claims that former city manager Roberto Mancini signed two contracts with the club, one to coach them for £ 1.45 million a year and another to the team from Sheikh Mansour in the United Arab Emirates, Al Jazira, for £ 1.75 million a year.
Asked by whether it would investigate Mancini's work for Al Jazira to determine that it was legitimate, HMRC said it does not comment on & # 39; identifiable taxpayers & # 39 ;.
But a spokesman said: "HMRC rigorously enforces the rules and has cashed £ 332 million in extra taxation by tackling non-compliance in the football industry.
We do visits to every Premier League club and most Football League clubs along with their players. We are currently investigating 171 football players, 44 football clubs and 31 agents for a number of problems, including abuse of image rights.
& # 39; We are clear that everyone must pay their share of the tax. The vast majority of taxpayers pay the right amount of tax on time, including those in the football industry. However, HMRC is ruthless in the pursuit of those who do not play according to the rules. & # 39;
Rob Wilson, an expert in football funding at Sheffield Hallam University, said he was sympathetic to the frustration of City with FFP, many critics believe it was an attempt by the elite of European football to see upward mobile clubs like City and to maintain Paris St Germain, based in Qatar. their place.
& # 39; Fun for them or not, these were the rules and City volunteered, & # 39; said Wilson.
& # 39; It is as if they decide that the markings on the field do not apply to them or want to achieve a greater goal than everyone else. & # 39;
It was claimed that City used a sports club in Dubai to pay former boss Roberto Mancini
The academic said it was possible HMRC would look at City to see if they had also avoided some of their tax liabilities, but this would amount to a cost-benefit analysis by the British authority, which may decide that the case is too complicated and the amounts involved are not worth it.
& # 39; Eventually the goat stops with UEFA. It is their rules that City seems to have bent and UEFA must open an immediate and independent investigation, "he added.
The UEFA, although understood as enraged at the behavior that was manifestly revealed by Der Spiegel, refused to comment on the accusations, referring to & # 39; confidentiality obligations & # 39;
For its part, City has followed the same reaction throughout the week and described these reports as the product of an organized attempt to damage the reputation of the club, based on hacked or stolen material & # 39 ;.