By Kevin Offer, Partner, Hardwick & Morris, LLP, London
After the attempts to form a European Super League failed, a review on safeguarding the future of football in England was undertaken. This government review, led by the fans, resulted in the publication of 47 recommendations in November 2021 setting out a “long-term sustainable position for English football”.
One of the proposals raised in the review was the implementation of a transfer levy to be imposed on all player transfers to Premier League clubs. The levy would be paid by the acquiring club in the form of a type of stamp duty, similar to that applied on the purchase of property or shares in the UK. A charge of 10% of the transfer fee would, it is said, have raised approximately £160m over the past five years, which could be redistributed to clubs lower down the football pyramid.
Whilst this charge may seem to have good intentions, it does not really address the problem of competitiveness in English football. Those, who support the implementation of this charge, argue that some clubs are not against it, but what difference would a 10% levy on transfers make to the bigger clubs who already pay fees substantially in excess of 10% to agents? However, for a smaller club, would a 10% levy be the difference between signing an additional player or not? The additional player may well enable a smaller club to compete with the bigger clubs or help to avoid relegation.
The misconception is that the Premier League is awash with money. Outside the few bigger clubs, this is not the case, and the imposition of this levy will add to the gap between the wealthy and those trying to survive.
Other issues that would need to be addressed, if such a levy were to be implemented, include:
It has been suggested in the press this month that a levy could be legislated for later this year. It may not, therefore, be an idea that will simply go away.
The author of this Post is not convinced, however, that a levy will achieve the objective of making English football fairer and may actually increase the gap between the ‘haves and have nots’.
Kevin Offer may be contacted by e-mail at ‘
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Mr. Kevin Offer
Hardwick & Morris LLP, London
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