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Corruption 1-0 Football

As a football fan of many years now I have come to learn many things about football in this country, the fact that commercialism and the top 4 are slowly decaying clubs at the lowest points of the football league and below, and the fact that there is little loyalty in today`s game.

But on the 5th of august I learnt another very alarming fact, football has become the new modern day banking system for corruption where the gravest of crimes are bailed out by corrupt executives.

Going into yesterday as a Saint`s fan I had a very mixed view on the Portsmouth vs HMRC case, part of me admittedly wanted to see them go out of business; not because of hate mind you but a sense of injustice and the sound belief that they should pay for their crimes.

But part of me also thought about the fans, whom many are actually genuine supporters who don`t care much for a rivalry stemmed from docking strikes, strikes that very few of us were actually in.

So an odd dilemma, Play up Pompey or PAY up Pompey?

I decided to take the latter of 2 opinions and say that I hoped HMRC won, not because I`m not a true football supporter but because of precedent and what a Portsmouth win could mean for the future of a declining sport.

A victory for Portsmouth would be a case of one football club defeating the government, the greatest power in this country being powerless to place justice upon one football club for operating a 'tax sham` - A very scary concept indeed.

Even the banks pay their taxes as do wealth funds and other very influential businesses, but a football club can pay 20% or less in some cases - Crystal Palace would be a prime example.

If one business that carries so much debt and owes so much tax with so little revenue is able to win a court case against the tax man bringing them to justice, you could say that football has become the new banking.

I spoke to some Portsmouth fans I know and they said it was a victory for football, well it`s a victory for the supporters most definitely, a victory for the football league, the Premier League and the FA.

But then the Premier League are the ones who have continually increased parachute payments and trying to get clubs to play abroad, something that is only good for those at the top rather than those at the bottom.

I for one don`t believe it is a victory for football, but a very stark warning for what is to come in the very near future. If one club gets away with owing hundreds of millions and putting money in tax havens, what is to stop other clubs from waking up and smelling the coffee?

Portsmouth have run themselves into huge debt but their biggest punishment is relegation from the Premiership, something that is less harsh these days thanks to over inflated parachute payments which basically reward failure.

They were on the brink of relegation before the takeover in the first place by the Russian. So hardly a big loss.

Points deductions? Again an obsolete punishment considering they were already practically relegated, the -9 making little difference and only confirming their relegation earlier.

They also get to start this campaign on 0 points, I`m sure the executives at PFC aren`t too angry with that outcome.

Considering Luton town were given a 30 point deduction and the Likes of Leeds suffering similar punishments, you have to wonder whether Palace and Portsmouth were given very light sentences.

Though Portsmouth have something that Leeds and Luton didn`t have, the protection of Mr Scudamore changing every rule that could have inflicted punishment.

I can understand the joy of Portsmouth fans, after all they have done nothing but be supporters of their club and I`m sure that even they are disgraced at what has happened to their club, paying back the charities was just one of the many things they did to show their dismay, so with rivalry aside the fans are blameless.

But they must realise that beyond the sentiments and the 'Pompey spirit` what their club has done is evade justice and break the laws that we all follow.

After all, if I phoned up my accountant tomorrow and said I was going to pay 20p in the pound on my tax bill, something tells me they wouldn`t be that sympathetic.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: Red Army Comrade Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday August 6 2010

Time: 10:57AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I'm sorry I have to disagree with you "Comrade"...HMRC were bound to lose over the "Image Rights". It isn't a "tax scam" it's a "tax loophole" and judging it on existing law, (as it was in the High Court yesterday) it was always bound to fail. As it has been said you can't rewrite laws because it doesn't suit you. You have to go through the due processes of Parliament to get things changed and that takes time. Law is also about precedence...if the High Court had judged in favour of HMRC against Pompey yesterday every other club and footballer who make and receive "Image Rights" payments would have been subject to back taxes...something HMRC probably don't have the resources to pursue. Get new laws written and implemented...that's the next step HMRC will take.
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 11:34:00

Far from being over I firmly believe that Pompey were the first assault that HMRC will be making on football and the rules they use to help mitigate this position the clubs have. Pompey had some idiots running the club and they are the ones who should be targettable. Having failed to win against the blues don't think that they will rest easy. The law can be strengthened and I fully expect the game to continue for a good while yet. There is a clear loophole and this loophole will be closed. Taxmen are not known for their friendly nature and they will be marting after losing out this time. They have probably already been preparing the next step in their fight against the Leagues and their rules.I await the next installment with more than a hint of interest.
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 11:38:00

I agree with both of your comments about this. In fact I would be very surprised if the HMRC haven't already been preparing the next step which s mox888 says will mean the law being changed by the government. This loophole is one that seems totally unjustified as it is only really of benefit to those able to bring top quality players to their club. The one area where the taxman can help himself is to reduce the time allowed to make the payments due to them. It should, in my book, be impossible to make a purchase of any size when heavily in debt. IE if a large amount of tax is owed how can a club justify spending more to bring in another player. The leagues are saying that rukles are or will be put in place to stop this happening again but I don't see it. Time will tell I guess.
SFC Forever
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 11:47:00

I have been taught that money is the root of all evil.
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 14:46:00

It is true that the people who pay their taxes have been shafted but Pompey are not the first nor will they be the last club to hit the rocks. Deed is done and now it is time to start afresh.
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 16:08:00

The actual quote is 'the love of money is the root of all evil'. That aside there certainly needs to be some criminal investigation and, hopefully, some convictions of persons previously connected with our club. We feel we've been violated, the owners are mere temporary custodians, a football club is much more than them, it is a whole community(whether those people like football or not) and these foreign owners do not see the community aspect at all, they have never been part of it and have no intention of doing so. Their motives are not for love of the club, the area, the people or the football. They are varied from a sense of power and esteem, to the downright criminal. It would also be wrong to see HMRC as the 'good guys' here, they are just as shifty but with the power of the state behind them and think they, too, are above the law. Yesterday's verdict has shown they are not, the moral argument notwithstanding. HRMC knew there would be one of two outcomes, 1) They would win and Pompey would be liquidated 2) Pompey would win Both outcomes would result in HMRC getting no more money,i nfact none at all from number 1 and also they would waste more taxpayers money in bringing the case, including the possibility of having costs awarded against them. They also have a habit of trying to get money out of people which they don't owe but that's a different story. I am unhappy with the way Pompey have been run and like most of us want those responsible brought to book. Football as a whole needs reforming and those corrupt individuals looking for either personal gain or a way of holding a community to ransom, need weeding out. The law requires changing and that now is a matter for the politicians, for the rest of us it is time to concentrate on the football. Good luck tomorrow against Plymouth andI hope we stuff Coventry!
Report Abuse
06/08/2010 22:59:00


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