What links Northampton Town, Napoli and Milan?
Seems like they have today all been linked to rumours about naughty things going on with money.
To start with Northampton, in 2005 David Cardoza had a wheeze that Sixfields Stadium could be doubled in size, although quite why was never clear. It was rarely if ever full as a stadium, and the Cobblers were not exactly pounding on the door of the Premier League. But as is the way of such things he became chairman and set about it, or if not it, then he certainly set about something.
And then ten years later, in November 2015, with administration and winding-up petitions flying around the court like paper aeroplanes, he agreed to sell a controlling stake in the club to Kelvin Thomas. He had perhaps got his sums wrong.
Now Mr Cardoza has been arrested by police investigating a £10.25m loan given to the club by the borough council. There is talk of those awful “alleged financial irregularities” in relation to the loan, which was designed to help the club develop the stadium, as he said he would do.
Det Ch Insp Paul Spicer said it was a “very complex investigation,” which really wasn’t exactly an illuminating statement.
But never mind cos we can hot foot it to Italy where investigators are investigating allegations of systematic tax evasion among senior officials in clubs in the A and B divisions. The names of Napoli, Lazio, and Milan, keep cropping up.
No one has been charged in Italy but the Naples prosecutor Vincenzo Piscitelli said €12m had been seized in terms of cash, property and other assets. They are investigating 58 people, although being spoilsports they won’t tell us who these people are.
But the Italian media is suggesting that the Napoli chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis, Adriano Galliani, the chief executive ofMilan, Claudio Lotito, the president of Lazio, and a handful of former players, had been involved in the investigation which has been kicking around since 2012.
At the centre of the investigation are allegations that players and other individuals doctored documents to try to avoid tax payments – which when you come to think about it is akin to the allegation that went around Rangers for a while. There is talk of a “deep-rooted system” to evade taxes involving 35 football clubs and 100 individuals.
What makes this all sound a little familiar is that the players are said to have created false invoices for their clubs, which then meant they paid lower rates of tax.
Milan said the allegations are “absolutely marginal and not founded and which will come to a resolution, in terms of both tax and criminal law, with a due dismissal”.
In 2013 many clubs were searched as part of a tax fraud investigation after which prosecutors indicated that foreign clubs were also being examined and that the investigation involved the avoidance of payments in connection to player transfers.
Of course what the clubs could do is call upon Google. They haven’t paid much if any tax in Britain for six years despite making huge profits, but have now said that they will generously make a donation to the government of £130m. It has agreed to pay around £400m in France, where it does far less trading. Some MPs are not impressed although the Chancellor thought it was all jolly good, and showed that no one could pull the wool over his eyes.