Our roving accountant gets angry about the greed and hypocrisy of Premier League footballers at a time of global crisis.
I was almost literally sickened to hear that the Premier League’s footballers have not only refused to take a pay cut but claimed that the justification for doing so was a desire to pay tax.
This is the kind of hypocrisy that can only be accepted if you take the view that these people have the mental capacity of five-year-olds at school. It may be relevant but some might have noticed that these people aren’t at present even fulfilling the raison d’être behind their exorbitant pay by playing football.
It might possibly be argued that some are listening to the advice of a group of unscrupulous agents, but even that would not be a reasonable excuse for such outrageous behaviour.
There are three obvious reasons why these greedy, prancing prima donnas deserve to be treated as laughing stocks or pariahs by the whole country.
First, they must have noticed that there is a pandemic ripping through not only the country in which they play football but the whole world. Thousands of people are dying every day while they sit in their mansions watching daytime TV and counting the millions.
On a lesser scale, far more are destitute, with businesses about to close despite the efforts of governments to keep them afloat, individuals worried about how they will feed their children and the elderly being told that if they get sick, hospitals may do little or nothing to save their lives.
Secondly, rather closer to home, you might have thought that the odd superstar would have noticed or been informed of news stories about their colleagues, who are effectively losing their jobs and their livelihoods in order to finance the leading players’ multi-million-pound salaries. All of this is happening at a time when their employers are going to be losing millions as a result of their failure to comply with contractual obligations to broadcasting outlets.
In passing, I would love to see a club putting its footballers on to furlough. 80% of 10 minutes pay would not last long when you have to fund a carefully hidden coke habit, gambling addiction and a stream of very beautiful ex-wives and girlfriends. Obviously, this isn’t a depiction of real life, but I’m sure that if I was reduced to watching something like Footballers’ Wives that is exactly how these idlers would be portrayed.
Thirdly, entering our own field of expertise, footballers are among those renowned and vilified in the press for trying out any kind of tax avoidance scheme that is going, however devious.
Therefore, announcing that your main reason for refusing to support the nation by taking a pay cut is to continue paying tax must be treated as a joke in very poor taste.
I would be very surprised if any footballers read this column but it is just conceivable that the odd agent or adviser might do so.
If so, please have a word with your ultra-rich pals and tell them if they wish to continue this charade, the very least that they can do is stop getting salary siphoned through image rights, settle all back taxes in respect of abusive tax avoidance schemes (and, if they have any sense of self-respect, the kind of non-abusive but disrespectful avoidance schemes that the government is currently threatening to attack) and make a public statement confirming that they will no longer indulge in such practices going forward since they have such a burning desire to pay the right amount of tax.
In reality, I have no doubt that greed will overcome any such qualms. The best hope for those who believe in equity and genuinely want to see the Exchequer getting its proper whack is a media backlash so strong that these sad losers are forced to back down.