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Birmingham City FC v HMRC

It seems to have slipped under the medias radar, but Birmingham City recently suffered a hefty defeat against the boys from the VAT office.

The decision runs to 16 pages, so a full read is only for the bored/interested, but here are a few selected comments that appear to sum up the attitude of football clubs when it comes to conducting transfers and paying agents which gives you just a glimpse into the murky world below. For an industry where millions of pounds change hands the regulation, or rather the lack of it, from the FA just beggars belief. It's no wonder that the greedy b*stards have been helping themselves for years - and why West Ham thought they could "get away with it"!

"We have already indicated that we are satisfied that the FIFA and FA rules were observed somewhat casually, and in some respects hardly at all, and we should add that we are satisfied (partly from the evidence we heard and partly from the Quest report) that BCFC was by no means the only club whose respect for the rules was less than strict."

"It is consistent with the express term of some of the agreements that the agent would use his best endeavours to secure payment of his fees from the employing club; and the reason given for it, that any player would prefer to have his agent’s fees paid by his employer than have to find the money himself, makes sense, even if the player should recognise that the practice might tempt the agent to persuade the player to join the club which offers the largest fee, regardless of the player’s own interests."

"It can safely be said that it is not possible to take the documentary evidence produced by BCFC at face value. As we have already mentioned, BCFC was prepared to assert to the FA that it had a written agreement with an agent when that was plainly not the case."

"The agents of whose dealings we had evidence, too, did not adhere scrupulously to the rules."

"It is not surprising that many (though not all) clubs and agents were somewhat casual in their approach to the rules, when the chances of being penalised for non-compliance were negligible, if not non-existent."

Comments

  • any idea on what sort of figures involved ?
  • edited May 2007
    I think football at all (professional) levels is a potentially rich seam for HMCRE.

    Correct accounting procedures do not seem particularly high on the list of priorities of most football clubs in my experience.

    There is reference to the Quest report. Was that prepared by Stephen Quest by any chance?
  • edited May 2007
    It doesn't give any amounts - unusually - but the case relates to 14 different players transfers/contract negotiations between December 2000 and August 2003, so we're not going to be talking peanuts. The full narrative goes into detail about specific transactions and it would be quite easy to work out which players they are talking about , with a bit of help from Rothmans - as all of the players/agents/clubs are given pseudonyms.

    I bet "Player Lemon" was not impressed with his name! ([/Player Lemon was transferred temporarilly on loan from his club, Apricot, to BCFC"i]
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