Amateur status attacked by MPs
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Friday 17 March 1995
Gerald Kaufman, the Labour chairman of the select committee examining the issue, told Inland Revenue officials: "What you have revealed in answer to my questions is that the word `amateur' is simply not accurate when applied to people who play rugby union. It is at best a term of art and at worst simply bogus."
The officials - who are investigating payments in rugby union - told the committee that players' claims to be amateurs were "irrelevant" when it came to assessing whether they gained taxable earnings from the game. An official of the Personal Tax Division of the Inland Revenue refused to give specific instances, but mentioned the kinds of payment that would be assessed as taxable profits: money for loss of earnings, fixed expenses payments in excess of actual expenses, signing-on fees, and the provision of cars or housing. Mr Kaufman commented: "I take it that those examples all must exist somewhere for you to think of them so easily."
The committee heard "a plea for fair play" from Maurice Lindsay, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, who claimed that the rugby union ban on players who have played professional rugby league was "discrimination".
He described the recent concession - to allow rugby league professionals to play union after a "stand-down" period of three years, but only below national level - as "total balderdash".
All the members of the National Heritage Select Committee who spoke yesterday appeared to support his plea. John Maxton (Lab, Glasgow Cathcart) said: "Someone who has played American football at the very top can play rugby union, while someone who has played rugby league for money cannot. We think it's sheer hypocrisy."
If the International Rugby Union Board, at its meeting in August, concedes some form of professionalism, it will find it harder to defend the ban on those allegedly tainted by "pay for play".
Latest in Sport
The muddy truth of the Christmas Truce game
Alexis Sanchez video: Turns out the Arsenal forward is brilliant at playing the piano too
Premier League: Chelsea vs West Ham match preview
Sir Alex Ferguson on Jose Mourinho: 'He's good looking, speaks five languages, wins everything - it's unfair'
The best sport selfies of 2014
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 5 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...