HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is investigating 43 football players over the way they have used offshore companies to potentially avoid paying tax on money earned through image rights in the UK.
Appearing in front of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson said that football players using image right companies based in offshore tax havens was 'the most significant risk in football'.
During the same evidence session, HMRC’s director general of enforcement Jennie Granger told MPs the tax body was investigating 43 football players over their use of offshore image rights companies.
'We have 43 players, eight agents, and 12 football clubs currently under inquiry around the issue of image rights,' she said.
Thompson added that the issue had overtaken the use of film schemes by footballers to avoid paying tax.
Under a ruling made in 2000, income from image rights for footballers is treated differently to income from playing.
Thompson said he thought this should be reviewed by the government.
'If it was for me, yeah, I would want to review this but I need to reiterate, under the case settled in 2000, that is the current law,' he said.
Earlier this week the Sunday Times reported that Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho may have moved millions of pounds to offshore accounts in order to avoid paying tax on commercial uses of his name and image. The claims have been denied.
Granger said that investigations into tax avoidance by footballers, entertainers and other sports stars had brought in £158 million revenue over the last two years.