Football: Taylor's idea to keep players on right side of the taxman

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The Independent Online
The Professional Football Association's chief executive, Gordon Taylor, has called for a body to be set up within the sport to keep an eye on the game's finances.

The idea comes in response to the Inland Revenue's on- going crackdown on unregistered payments to players, managers and agents. It is believed that 80 players in the last four years have cleared bills for unpaid tax, and that 29 of those have been this year as the Revenue's investigations have reached fruition.

Taylor wants the self-monitoring body set up to make sure football's finances do not get into the same mess again, and believes it should involve the Football Association, the Premier League and the PFA.

According to Taylor many players have fallen foul of the taxman as they are young and without financial knowledge. "What has emerged is that, certainly in transfer dealings, clubs can intimidate players into doing things a certain way. That is why we would like a self-monitoring body inside the game to keep a close eye on what goes on.

"The introduction of many foreign players has also produced claims that cash is being paid into offshore accounts to avoid paying tax. Our advice to our members is that they pay as you earn, and to take correct advice from accountants to avoid problems in the future."

Football has been immersed in scandals over illegal payments to players, clubs involved in tax evasion and the role of agents in transfers and is now high on the Revenue priority list.

A spokesman for the Revenue said: "Football has been under investigation for many years, far more than has been claimed recently. And all we are willing to say is that those investigations will be ongoing. Some clubs and players have come forward over the years, and their anonymity will always be protected. If anyone, in any walk of life, feels guilty and feels they have not been paying enough tax, we will be happy to talk to them."

Taylor believes most of the problems have already been sorted out. "The union itself has set up a financial management unit staffed by ex-players who are qualified to give advice.

"I think that several clubs and players have learned their lesson over things that have happened in the past."