Sport – Taxing Questions

Richard Baldwin has set out the strong case for another look at the way we tax sport in the UK in an article for the World Sports Law Report.

This subject area is always difficult for law makers – because most of the high-profile cases are about very well paid athletes in a variety of sports. Quite rightly who has any sympathy for top paid footballers paying a bit of tax? I certainly wouldn’t have any qualms about making them pay their way.

But as my old friend Richard points out there are other consequences for our tax regime on sport as a whole. We actually need sport to prosper for so many other government agendas that overtaxing and killing them off is a little shortsighted.

I can’t see many negotiations with the Treasury getting very far with the current regime/coalition government. Cuts are the order of the day and as far as the Treasury are concerned revenue lost is just as important as revenue gained.

The burden on sport could be lifted. It just needs to be treated in the same way as other areas of public policy.  We discovered this when I was campaigning for the CASC scheme and more recently on the Subs for Clubs campaign. Sport seems to be singled out for negative tax concessions compared to other areas – even the National Trust!

Richard Baldwin is one of the few people who keeps bagging this particular drum. I have worked with him several times to try and achieve some minor victories along the way. But until we have a government as a whole that sees the value of sport they will only be small victories along the way. But Richard will never give up. He epitomizes the voluntary sport nut who gives his/her all with passion! I hope to keep helping him along.

New Club is Born–same old score for Birstall

Congratulations to Sileby RFC for a warm welcome to their new ground and opening matches on Saturday. It has been a remarkable journey for Sileby and those involved in getting a club off the ground and up and running so quickly deserve praise. This is what grassroots sport is all about – the hard work of eager volunteers.

It was good to part of their opening day. Unfortunately turning out for Birstall 2nds felt as though not much had changed! A big loss for the first game of the season. The team sheet looked good on Thursday but by the time I arrived on Saturday there were 13 of us. The first team had 7 drop out and all our great squad were called up! Loughborough brought a strong side with the dangerous mixture of old experienced players up front and young backs! It was one of those games where I stopped counting the score. I did get plenty of practise for the re-starts though. (someone tells me we lost 64-0!)

andy rugby birstall v loughborough 2

We always start the season slowly – but I am sure the lads will respond and we will do well this season. Certainly after the game nobody was too downhearted.

Blair – What more can be said?

From September 1st I decided I would start blogging again. I hoped to restrict my blogging to the new world I now inhabit – sport and faith around the political class. So I imagined the first blog being about something sporty or faith based. Instead my day was dominated by everybody asking my views about THAT book and THAT interview – Tony Blair. Calls came in yesterday to go on the record to comment about Blair. Unfortunately I was stuck in meetings and on the underground. A badly timed day.

I got to know Blair before he became party leader via an East Midlands Regional Conference fringe event. It was the first time I came across him in the flesh and you have to say he was impressive. Already he was a politician at ease with his message. That is important. It marked him out. You can tell politicians who are having to defend a line they don’t support. Tony instinctively seemed to believe what he was saying with passion. It may now sound daft but that was new. Sadly in the end his overconfidence in being ‘right’ was his downfall as far as I am concerned. Blair could have been an amazing Prime Minister. He has highlighted many of his own failures in the book. It was a wasted Premiership. So much could have been done if he wasn’t so timid to start and so overconfident to finish!

Regulatory Burden on Sport

I have been asked to attend and take part in the CCPR review of regulatory burden on sport. Funnily enough this was one of the things I put into the Labour manifesto too – so once again there should be good cross-party support for anything that comes out of this review. The details are below, but at this stage I am looking for examples from sports clubs and organisations of burdens that could be lifted. As I am participating as Chair of Sport Strategic Partnership for Volunteers I am specifically interested in reducing burdens on our 4 million sports volunteers.

CCPR | Home | August 2010
CCPR has been asked by the Minister for Sport to undertake a review of bureaucracy as it affects sport, and those who run community sports clubs. The aim of this review is to complement and inform the sports policy objectives of the new coalition government. The review has been asked to work in tandem with the existing government reviews of vetting and barring and Lord Young’s Health and Safety Review. However the full range of regulatory burdens will be examined through a survey of clubs and national governing bodies which will be followed by a series of expert working groups. How will this affect sport and recreation?

The review is a great opportunity to formally highlight to government the problems affecting sport at its grassroots. The report will not only examine the issues, but offer positive policy recommendations which CCPR can continue to campaign on.What can our members do?CCPR is embarking on the first stages of research. Members can help by highlighting any areas of regulatory burden they wish us to examine, offering case studies and declaring an interest in sitting on expert panels. Please contact Syann Cox at

Playgrounds at risk under coalition cuts

According to Channel 4 News hundreds of playground developments across England are up for the chop as part of the growing list of cuts. It looks like the Department for Education have put the brakes on the scheme we set up to deliver 1,500 new play areas.  This was part of Labour’s £235m Playbuilder Scheme for community play.

c4 playground story

Having worked with people representing the Play Industries I know there was criticism at the delays in getting round to fulfilling this pledge. It will now be a bit of a kick in the teeth for all those projects that were now looking forward to receiving their funding.  Projects are not just delivered overnight – they take months of local consultation and planning. There are already about 2,000 playgrounds that have benefitted from the cash.

C4 News Story Video

C4 News Story

Tax & Sport

It comes as no surprise that the following story has appeared again today. It looks like it is a story that will run and run. As other countries create tax free havens for sports stars our tax laws start to look out of date. Or do they? Should we be always chasing the tax free states in their quest for short term gain and profile. Perhaps as usual there is a compromise somewhere in the middle. I know the Treasury will not want to open up this issue too lightly. Where do we stop. How many exemptions for ‘visitors’ do we create.

To be fair we do need to do something. The rules as they stand do ‘over penalise’ visiting sports stars and we have created the special exemption for the 2012 Olympics. It was part of the 2012 Olympics Act I sat on…so it is possible.

I know the new Coalition government are as keen as the previous sports minister to sort this out…but the Treasury ahs even more say these days – so we will see how quickly this is resolved. I would love to be at those meetings again today!


The story….

Sport Industry Website story

The European Tour and Paul Casey have become the latest names to hit out at the UK tax rules, saying that they could deter the world’s top golfers from competing in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in October.

Foreign stars are taxed both on their winnings from events in Britain and a portion of other income that is connected to their performance in the UK, including sponsorship and endorsements. 

It has been reported that Tiger Woods will face a potential £1m bill if he is to play in the Ryder Cup.

Jamaican sprinter
Usain Bolt pulled out of the Grand Prix at Crystal Palace this weekend as he would end up losing money if he competed.

The tax situation is a big issue for the Ryder Cup because players receive no prize money and Mitchell Platts, European Tour director of public relations corporate affairs, commented: ‘These tax rules are discouraging leading sportsmen and sportswomen from competing in Britain.’

‘Our aim is to attract the best players to provide the best entertainment for our audiences in the UK. This tax rule is seriously hampering our efforts.’

Golfer Casey, who now lives in Arizona, said: ‘…I fear it will keep people away. I do think about it, I’m not a huge fan of paying through the nose for something. The Ryder Cup does seem a mad one as we don’t get paid. Yes, it would cause a stink.’

The rule has been waived for the London 2012 Olympics and the European Tour could ask for a similar relinquish on the rules in October.

UKSport & Sport England to be Merged

So Jeremy Hunt the SoS for DCMS has gone further than feared today and announced that Sport England and UKSport will now ‘merge’ in plans set out in Parliament today.

When I was writing our manifesto on sport we looked at merger. At a very simple level it looks attractive. But like so much of life it isn’t quite that easy.

We therefore proposed much closer cooperation and working with reduced back office costs and relocation of services out of London. But we stopped short of merger for 2 simple reasons. First the case was not made for an all under one roof miracle for sport. I will explain more at some later stage. Second we didn’t want to distract the work of UKSport in delivering a record medal haul in 2012. UKSport has delivered and needs the same no compromise approach to winning in 2012.