Erik Petersen: Big Football's disdain for the taxman
GOOD news has arrived for anyone looking for a reason to hate Manchester United.
Granted, if you've reached the year 2012 without already having many good reasons to hate Manchester United, you have more than likely just arrived from one of those remote Pacific islands used primarily for nuclear testing or turtle husbandry (obviously, I exclude from this list those of you who actually are Man U fans since your "granddad came from there", or something).
Heck, I hate them and I don't even like football. I hate them because it is mathematically impossible in England to avoid them. They get everywhere. They're like an ex who doesn't get that it's over. They're like Friends reruns.
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Which makes this new reason to hate them all the more galling. According to the Independent on Sunday, last year, they paid no UK corporation tax. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Nil.
And they're not alone.
The paper ran a story this weekend detailing how little tax gets paid by top English football clubs.
Some clubs such as Arsenal barely paid any while a handful, including Tottenham, Newcastle and that plucky northern family business, Manchester United, paid precisely bupkis.
The Sunday Indy noted that they all pay PAYE and other taxes, and that, like Starbucks or Google, they're breaking no British laws. You'll excuse me if I fail to alert the Nobel committee.
Like other clubs outside the Premiership gravitational pull, our local sides didn't warrant mention in the Sunday Indy story. That's fair enough, as lower-league English football is well documented as a place where owners do not have a license to print money.
Before we feel too comfortable on our high horse though, we should cast our thoughts back a couple years to when our little Notts County got served with a winding up order over tax discrepancies.
They came through all that, but it's worth remembering – smaller doesn't necessarily equal pure.
But still, given the choice between the little local guys who've occasionally made mistakes in a tough financial climate and a football GloboCorp dismissing the taxman the way Simon Cowell dismisses an off-key 19-year-old, I know which one I'll take.
So, um, who's with me?
After reading the Sunday Indy piece I hurried to that great barometer of unhinged rage, Twitter, to see if torches were being lit and pitchfork tips touched to check for sharpness. After witnessing several weeks of rage at the likes of Starbucks and Google, I figured the Great British Populace would be ready to storm the footballing barricades.
And that sound I heard? That would be the crickets chirping. A lonely wind. Hey look, tumbleweeds.
This won't do. If people have convictions when it comes to espressos or using Ask Jeeves instead of Google, they need to bring those same convictions to Saturday afternoon.
As in, don't support Man U when you could support Notts County just as you wouldn't caffeinate at Starbucks when you could go to Lee Rosy's.