Reprieve for Gascoigne in tax case

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Fallen football hero Paul Gascoigne has been given a nine-week breathing space to file his late tax returns and fend off a bankruptcy petition by Revenue and Customs.

Gascoigne has not filed any returns for the past two years. The taxman is petitioning on the basis of an estimated £200,000 liability.

At London Bankruptcy Court today, the case was adjourned until 9 January with the Revenue's agreement.

Gascoigne's solicitor Craig Montgomery told Deputy Registrar Kyriakides that his financial affairs were complex, involving interests overseas, and time was needed to submit returns and liquidate assets to meet his liabilities.

Gascoigne did not attend today's hearing.

Outside court, Mr Montgomery stressed: "There is no suggestion that he doesn't have the funds to meet his tax liabilities. It is just a question of having time to make the returns."

Gascoigne does not have a regular income, he said. It comes from books and appearances, and he has overseas interests.

"It takes time to work out where everything is," said Mr Montgomery.

The 41-year-old former footballer, who has been treated for alcohol and mental health problems, was once one of football's highest paid stars. He became a millionaire overnight when he was transferred from Newcastle to Spurs in 1988.

He secured a £1.25m-a-year deal with Italian club Lazio in 1992 on top of a £1m-a-year boot sponsorship contract.

He was still earning £1m a year after joining Rangers in 1995 and £30,000 a week from Middlesbrough in 1998.

When he was the star of the England squad, he won a £2m sponsorship deal from Puma, the sports clothing maker, £500,000 with Brut aftershave and £300,000 for Walkers Crisps ads.

He also secured a £2.5m deal with Adidas.

At one stage it was reported that he was worth £14m.