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HMRC's Guidance on Agency Fee Taxation in Football

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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have been clamping down on how tax is paid by football players over the last few years. On 31 March 2021, HMRC released new guidance. This guidance, along with the rise of investigations, indicates the changing attitude of HMRC to how tax on football agency fees will be handled going forward.  What was the position?  It is common in practice for an agent to represent both the player and the club in a transfer or contract negotiations. This is known as dual representation and is permitted by the Football Association under the current regulations.  When representing both player and club, agents would split the services provided for the player and services provided for the club 50:50 for the purposes of tax. This position was accepted by HMRC until now. The club would pay 100% of the agency fee, of which 50% of this (plus VAT) would be paid on behalf of the player for the services provided to the player as a benefit-in-kind. A player or his employer must de

A Summer of Legal Issues in the Championship

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Sheffield Wednesday In November 2019, the EFL brought charges against SWFC for misconduct in relation to the sale of Hillsborough stadium. Charge 1 – SWFC included the sale of Hillsborough in their 2018 accounts, when it appears the stadium was not officially sold until 2019. The reason why SWFC sold their stadium and included the sale in the 2018 accounts was so that they could comply with the EFL’s Profit and Sustainability Rules (the EFL’s version of financial fair play) for the 3-year period 2015-18.   SWFC argued that assertions made by the EFL at the time gave rise to a ‘legitimate expectation’ from SWFC that it could be included in the 2018 accounts. These assertions were made in emails from EFL employees. The Independent Disciplinary Commission made it clear this was no defence because employees of the EFL have no powers to waive or change the requirements of EFL rules. SWFC claimed that they had entered into a heads of terms agreement which was dated before 31 July,

Manchester City v UEFA Case Summary

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Issue 1 – Did the Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) breach its obligations of due process and, if so, what were the consequences thereof? MCFC: The decision by the Investigatory Chamber of the CFCB to refer the case to the Adjudicatory Chamber of the CFCB before concluding their investigation was premature and did not allow MCFC the opportunity to present its case. The CFCB breached duties of confidentiality and impartiality when leaks came out about the investigation and were published in the media. UEFA: There were no procedural flaws, and even if there were, they were cured by the new review from CAS, and also the Adjudicatory Chamber. CAS: The fact that the case was referred to the Adjudicatory Chamber before concluding the investigation did not prejudice MCFC. The leaks did not impact the impartiality of the decision-making process. Agreed with UEFA that new review by CAS (and the Adjudicatory Chamber) has a curing effect because both parties must resubmit all evidence.

Trademark Issues in Sports

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A trademark is a sign that can consist of words, designs, letters, numerals, colours, sounds or shapes that are capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises. The essential function of a trademark is to protect the intellectual property of an owner. As the sporting industry becomes more commercialised and continues to grow, more trademark disputes are arising. Disputes arise for a variety of reasons. This article will look at three ongoing issues involving trademarks. Each one offers a slightly different twist on trademark law and its application in the sporting industry.     The Washington *Redskins* Recently, the Washington Redskins finally decided to drop the word ‘Redskins’ from their name after years of ongoing legal battles, changing public attitude and pressure from involved parties. The ability to register ‘Redskins’ as a trademark was challenged as early as 1992. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) positi

What More Can the Sporting Industry Do to Tackle Racism?

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The sporting industry needs to be at the forefront of tackling racism, especially given the media and public attention it attracts. It can be said that sport exacerbates existing racial tensions, both for a minority of fans who see sporting events as an acceptable outlet to display such attitudes and for the athletes or coaches, who in the heat of moment use racial slurs to target an opponent. Because these actions are publicly punished and condemned, and because many initiatives and organisations have already been created to address the problem, it could be easy to suggest the sporting industry is actively tackling the issue to the best of their ability. However, the problem evidentially still exists, and although this is nowhere near an extensive list of things that can be done, this article is going to highlight some areas the sporting industry could look at to help tackle racism. The Rooney Rule First established by the NFL in 2003, this rule ensures that a club must

Manchester City and Financial Fair Play

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What is Financial Fair Play? The desired aim of Financial Fair Play (FFP) is to prevent clubs from spending more money than they earn to protect them from getting into financial difficulties and to ensure the sustainability of European club football. For those clubs that qualify for European club competitions, FFP is governed by EUFA. However, individual football authorities also have their own FFP rules, so the Premier League has its own rules, as does the Championship and so on. The general premise is to put a limit on the maximum losses a club can make over a certain period: UEFA say losses can be a total £30 million over 3 years The PL say losses can be a total of £105 million over 3 years The Championship say losses can be a total of £39 million over 3 years As a result of FFP, UEFA reported that combined club operating profits had risen to €600 million in 2017, compared with combined losses of €1.7 billion in 2011 before FFP was introduced. Similarly, before F

How Does a Pandemic Affect the Sports Industry?

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We can look at the impact of Covid-19 on the sporting industry in two ways. Firstly, and most importantly from a fan perspective, is that this pandemic is potentially going to change the outcome for all our teams. What will happen should the premier league or any other league be forced to abandon all games for the remainder of the season? Will Liverpool be given the title? Will Leeds and West Brom be promoted? This has already been discussed to death in the media. Everyone has their recommendations and opinions, biased or not. It is something that we cannot predict with certainty because it depends on the status of the virus in the coming months. It may be worth looking at a previous example of a league cancellation for guidance. In November last year, the Chilean football league was cancelled 6 games before the end of the season due to the riots throughout the country at the time. They decided to award the 13-point-ahead runaway leaders Universidad Catolica the title. Even