In a bizarre U-turn the government has announced today (May 12) that it will no longer seek to collect tax from overseas players who play for non-UK clubs in European cup finals.
As a result of this change of heart, Wembley can now bid for the 2011 European Cup Final. However the change comes just a couple of weeks too late for Arsenal’s bid for the UEFA Cup Final at the Emirates, which was turned down specifically on the tax rule
The government could easily have announced its change of mind one month ago, and Arsenal would almost certainly have won the event – the ground has successfully held a number of Brazil internationals, and has been voted the best football experience in the EPL.
The man who has engineered this anti-Arsenal decision is Andy Burnham, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, and many Arsenal fans will in future treat him with the utter contempt that he deserves, not least because he made it clear that the exemption will only apply to a Wembley bid and not to an Arsenal bid.
Specifically he said, “The Treasury has confirmed to the Football Association that if the UK wins the right to stage the Uefa Champions League final in 2011 then visiting teams and their players will not face a tax charge.”
Even worse, government figures show that when the final was played between two Italian sides at Old Trafford in 2005, the tax was not collected. So, clearly, if the game benefits Man U, or the FA, then the government will act. If it benefits Arsenal, they will act against Arsenal.
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