Football: Premier clubs' tax inquiry

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PREMIERSHIP clubs will come under the full scrutiny of the Inland Revenue within the next three months after agreeing to a voluntary tax investigation.

The Revenue said yesterday that the 'vast majority' of top-flight clubs have agreed to produce reports which will detail everything from gate receipts and sponsorship deals to players' perks.

Clubs have been given an assurance that all disclosures will remain 'confidential'. A Revenue official said: 'I can assure you that the FA (Football Association) have no powers to demand to see them.'

Tottenham have just been fined pounds 1.5m, banned from the FA Cup and docked six points after being found guilty by the FA of making irregular payments.

But Rick Parry, the FA Premier League chief executive, stressed that the investigation was not connected with the Spurs inquiry. It was prompted by dealings with the Players' Pension Scheme.

'The Revenue made it abundantly clear that they were investigating soccer thoroughly and in that context clubs have decided it is in their best interest to co-operate,' Parry said.

'That is not the action of an industry corrupt from top to bottom and guilty of malpractice. It's the action of an industry which is putting its house in order - and has been doing so for 12 months.

'Going down this route does not amount to an admission of tax liabilities. That remains to be seen. And any tax liability that may come to light would not necessarily imply a breach of football regulations.' Clubs 'signed up' have been asked to produce full financial reports for two of the last six years.

'We choose which years and it won't necessarily be the same for each club,' the Revenue official added. 'And if, for example, we find players using a company credit card and it wasn't declared, then the club are obliged to go back for the past six years.

'The reports are not obligatory, but the vast majority of Premier League clubs have agreed to produce them. They were given nine months to do so, but some said they would have them ready in three and we expect the first ones to arrive in September to October.'

Tottenham learned yesterday that their midfielder, Vinny Samways, is seeking a transfer.

England Under-21s kick off their European Championship campaign against Portugal at Leicester on 6 September.