Politicians alarmed over Premier League corporation tax

LONDON Sun Dec 2, 2012 5:48pm IST

Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, gestures as he delivers his speech at his party's conference in Liverpool, northern England, September 21, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Files

Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, gestures as he delivers his speech at his party's conference in Liverpool, northern England, September 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Phil Noble/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - English Premier League clubs made more than 150 million pounds profit but paid less than three million pounds corporation tax in their most recent accounts, Britain's Independent on Sunday newspaper has said.

Although the clubs have done nothing illegal, the newspaper's investigation has led to criticism of the Premier League by some British politicians.

The news comes in the wake of big multi-nationals such as Starbucks, Google and Amazon being criticised by UK lawmakers for not paying more tax in Britain.

Labour member of Parliament and former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe told the newspaper: "Even though this isn't illegal, it's not right. I will be raising this issue with the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee this week, as a matter of urgency."

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats who form Britain's governing coalition with the Conservatives, said: "Whatever the accounts of these clubs say, everyone knows that the Premier League is awash with money. This and many other examples that have emerged over recent months demonstrate that the Government should conduct a serious review of our corporate tax regime."

The Independent on Sunday, which noted that the 150 million of profit came off turnover of about 2.2 billion a year, said Manchester United were among five clubs not to pay any corporation tax in their most recent accounts.

"As with all businesses, when we make a profit we pay corporation tax. It's as simple as that," a United spokesman was quoted as saying.

A Premier League spokesman said that last season the league's 20 clubs contributed in excess of 1 billion pounds to the UK Treasury from all taxes.

An annual Deloitte review of football finance published last May found that Premier League revenues grew 12 percent to 2.3 billion pounds in 2010/11.

However it said the clubs made a modest operating profit of only 68 million pounds combined and, once transfer spending and financing costs were taken into account, were in the red to the tune of 380 million pounds at pretax level.

(Reporting by Mark Meadows, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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