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6961.14 + 42 0.61% 04:35

Messi affairs: Barca star coughs up £4.2m to Spanish taxman

Barcelona football star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have paid a €5 million (£4.2 million) ‘corrective payment’ to Spanish authorities after being accused of filing false tax returns.

Barcelona football star Lionel Messi and his father Jorge have paid a €5 million (£4.2 million) ‘corrective payment’ to Spanish authorities after being accused of filing false tax returns, according to reports.

Reuters reported that the pair paid the sum last month but are still due to appear in court on 17 September.

The prosecutor's office for tax crimes in Catalonia has alleged that Messi (pictured) and his father, who both deny any wrongdoing, hid more than €4m by filing incomplete returns for the years 2006-09.

Reuters reported that the authorities also allege that the sale of Messi's image rights had been hidden using a complex web of shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The agency quoted Messi as saying: ‘I never take care of that stuff myself and neither does my father. We have our lawyers and our wealth managers to take care of that and we trust them and they will sort this out. The truth is that I don't have a clue about all this and that is why we have people taking care of it.’

Click through to see more scrapes between soccer stars and the taxman...


HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) won a court battle to deny tax relief to an enterprise investment scheme (EIS) related to Blackpool Football Club.

In June 2012 The Upper Tribunal dismissed an appeal by Segesta, the holding company for Blackpool FC, over the blocking of capital gains tax (CGT) relief on a £4 million investment.

The complicated case involved a series of money transfers which went something like this…

Segesta borrowed £4 million from NatWest bank, which was transferred to Blackpool’s bank account. Blackpool then paid £4 million to Segesta’s principal shareholder, Owen Oyston, who transferred the money to Segesta by buying 276,494 ordinary £1 shares in the company at £15 per share. Segesta then used the money to pay off the NatWest loan and Oyston claimed CGT relief on the investment in Segesta.

Got that? Good.


Blackpool’s setback is nothing when compared to Glasgow Rangers which was pursued by HMRC over two unpaid tax bills going back more than 10 years in the region of £54 million.

Rangers has since entered administration and subsequently dropped down the divisions of Scottish football.

The battle with HMRC is ongoing. In February the taxman lodged an appeal against Rangers’ use of Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) to facilitate around £49 million worth of tax-free payments.

Alex Ferguson

Alex Ferguson (pictured) was not too used to losing, but along with Sven Goran Eriksson, came in for a shock after HMRC won a tribunal victory against film investment partnership Eclipse 35, that could deny wealthy investors £117 million in tax relief.

HMRC’s win bared Eclipse 35 from claiming tax relief on a complex £1 billion deal with Disney, according to The Times.

The paper claimed that had the deal succeeded, investors in the scheme, which include Ferguson and Eriksson, could have enjoyed an average of £404,000 in tax relief on an investment of £173,000.

Andrey Arshavin

Back in 2009 former Arsenal midfielder Andrey Arshavin allegedly attempted to avoid the then new 50p income tax rate by asking his club to pay his wages as an interest-free loan. The system meant the players could have paid just 2.5% tax on earnings. According to The Daily Mail, Arshavin was ‘unpleasantly’ surprised by his last income tax bill, which would have taken 40 pence off every pound he pocketed.

Vinnie Jones

Our favourite hard man Vinnie is even harder than his movies suggest. The retired footballer and now actor was caught up in a tax probe back in 2009, as reported by The Sun at the time. Vinnie Jones Enterprises Ltd racked up a tax debt of £128,000. Despite being the firm's sole director, Vinnie avoided any locks, stocks or smokin' barrels, as he had limited liability.

Fernando Torres

In December 2012 the Daily Mail reported that Chelsea star Fernando Torres (pictured) could be hit with a £2 million tax bill for investing in a scheme that helped fund the Twilight films.

Torres invested in a scheme alongside Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez, who put in £50,000, operated by film investment business Scion.

The paper said Torres invested £1 million in two film schemes which borrowed £800,000 for every £200,000 put in by an investor.

The investor’s cash bought shares in the scheme. Investors claimed that because the shares became worthless they had lost £1 million. The loss was used to offset their income tax bills.

The paper said HM Revenue & Customs was looking at investors' tax returns.

Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard (Gerrard to you) was recently named in The Daily Mail as one of half a dozen premier league footballers that may have been involved in complicated tax avoidance schemes. The schemes, namely in the film industry, have proved popular for players over the years according to the Daily Mail, but have left one or two in financial ruin. Despite the possibility of allegedly being involved in one of these investments, Gerrard emerges so far with his halo still intact.

Harry Redknapp

In February Harry Redknapp was cleared of evading taxes on payments made to his bank account (in Monaco) from his former boss at Portsmouth, Milan Mandaric.

Mandaric, who was also cleared, paid £189,000 into Redknapp's account, claiming that the money was a gesture of friendship.

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney and Gareth Barry, hit the headlines after HMRC demanded Premiership football clubs pay £100 million on behalf of their players who used a tax loophole to pay just 2% tax on some of their earnings.

According to The Sunday Times, Manchester United’s Rooney, who earns £200,000 a week, saved over £600,000 in the past two years, while Manchester City’s Barry avoided paying £135,000 in tax.

The loophole sees the players sign two contracts with their clubs. They sign a players contract and another contract for the royalties paid from merchandising and image rights.

The latter is paid into a separate company which is only liable to pay corporation tax rather than income tax.

Paul Gascoigne

A post-football career that has seen Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne battle drink, pies, the chairman of Kettering Town, and the police who tried to stop him taking Raoul Moat on a fishing trip, took a turn for the mundane when in February 2010 the High Court ordered him to pay HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) more than £30,000 or face bankruptcy.