Premier League club ‘scrutinised for offshore payments’ and 329 players ‘for alleged tax avoidance’


A record 329 professional footballers ‘are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance’ as a leading Premier League club is being ‘scrutinised by the FA and HMRC for using their sister clubs to make payments to agents’

  • 329 professional footballers are being investigated for suspected tax avoidance
  • The figure from the 2021-22 season has risen from 93 in the previous campaign
  • HMRC and the FA will crack down on tax avoidance through image rights deals
  • A Premier League club has reportedly been paying agents from their sister sides
  • The club could face a seven-figure penalty ad 16 deals are being investigated 

A record 329 professional footballers are under investigation for suspected tax avoidance, while a Premier League club is being investigated by the FA and HMRC for making offshore payments to agents, according to reports. 

Premier League stars are among the 329 players being investigated, while some 31 clubs and 91 agents are also being probed, according to The Sun. 

The number investigated during the 2021-22 season has dramatically risen from 93 in the previous term and is the highest since HMRC began keeping records. 

The figure is revealed as HMRC reportedly steps up its work to combat tax avoidance within sport. 

As part of its operation the body is said to have appointed a team of fraud experts to liaise with the FA’s Football Compliance Project.

The team will reportedly attempt to crack down on tax avoidance through image rights deals, in which clubs pay players more to be able to use their image in advertising and endorsement campaigns. 

These extra payments are believed to often be paid to a firm the player sets up and are therefore subject to 19 per cent Corporation Tax instead of the 45 per cent high-earner Income Tax. 

Tax expert Elliott Buss, a partner at accountancy group UHY Hacker Young, told The Sun: ‘The Football Compliance Project linking up with HMRC’s elite fraud unit means the tax authority is very concerned about the significant amounts of unpaid tax in the sport.

329 professional footballers are reportedly under investigation for suspected tax avoidance, while a Premier League club is being investigated for making offshore payments to agents

‘HMRC sees football as an industry where millions of pounds in tax can very easily go unpaid. It is determined not to let that happen.’

HMRC reports that it has collected £560million in additional football-related tax since 2015.  

HMRC also reportedly says that commission paid between clubs and agents should be scrapped. 

The news comes amid another report from The Sun claiming that a leading Premier League side has been using its foreign ‘sister’ clubs to to disguise money paid for deals for incoming players to their English squads. 

FA's Football Compliance Project are liaising with a team of tax experts appointed by HMRC

FA’s Football Compliance Project are liaising with a team of tax experts appointed by HMRC

The club have reportedly been paying agents fees from their European satellite sides, meaning money has been paid to agencies instead of as part of genuine transfer deals in the UK.

Other agents are said to have known of the practice and have complained, leading the FA to work closely with HMRC to carry out checks on payments made through their own ‘clearing’ system.

The report claims that as many as 16 deals are being scrutinised to verify money trails involved in moves that had been flagged up.

The FA are heading up the investigation but HMRC are said to be paying close attention to proceedings in the case that the findings present any wrong-doing. 

A leading Premier League side has reportedly been using its foreign 'sister' clubs to to disguise money paid for incoming deals to their English clubs

A leading Premier League side has reportedly been using its foreign ‘sister’ clubs to to disguise money paid for incoming deals to their English clubs

Football’s governing body have the power to fine the club and, with the investigation on such a large scale due to the number of deals being looked into, the penalty could be as big as seven figures once the case is closed. 

Several top-flight clubs have so-called ‘satellite’ sides, which are often used to loan or develop players in preparation of a move to the Premier League outfit. 

However, this particular club is said to have disguised the fees, allowing them to keep their Financial Fair Play and agent tax bills down in the UK.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United have reportedly hired a team of lawyers to fight a £5million tax demand in relation to transfer deals. 

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