Jose Mourinho’s tax problems shame Manchester United and Chelsea
Jose Mourinho is “the rich one” in the Sunday Times’ look at the Manchester United manger’s financial affairs. The allegation is that “a complex offshore structure” has allowed Mourinho “to dodge tax on his image rights income”.
Is it all legal? We should suppose it is. But after the words “criminal investigation”, the paper looks at the cash – pots of it. The paper says since arriving in the UK in 2004 Mourinho has been paid – get his – £120m in salary. Much of that cash came from Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea. Perhaps the paper would be best served looking at the owner’s sources of income. In 2015, the Times‘ Matthew Syed was scathing of the Russian:
The money that has bankrolled Chelsea these past 12 years, which has brought multiple trophies while sanitising the image of one of the most dubious individuals ever associated with British sport, was corruptly amassed
Back to the Mourinho, then, and his cash:
An investigation by The Sunday Times has found evidence suggesting that the Manchester United boss’s advisers misled the tax authorities in Britain and Spain during inquiries into more than £10m in earnings hidden through a Caribbean tax haven.
In an attempt to reduce his tax bill, Mourinho’s advisers appear to have fabricated more than £1m in costs run up by a British Virgin Islands shell company with no employees.
They also withheld from the tax inspectors the fact that Mourinho’s family were the true owners of the shell company.
The story is based on a “1.9-terabyte cache of data was originally handed to Der Spiegel, the German news magazine, by a whistleblower who does not wish to be named”. We are told why he’s leaked the data. “It is time to finally clean up football,” he says. “The fans have to understand that with every ticket, every jersey they buy and with every television subscription, they are feeding an extremely corrupt system that is only in it for itself.”
As is the way with big scoops of the past years – politicians’ expenses; the US embassy cables; Hillary Clinton’ emails – the source is huge wad of data dropped on the media’s mat. It;s quickly packaged up as story of bad versus good. But how many of us see the Tax Man as a force for righteousness?
The paper notes:
It shows how the super-rich can employ highly paid advisers and lawyers to shield them from the tax laws that apply to everyone else. The public rarely gets a glimpse into this world. Until now.
Of course it all boils down to one thing: greed. But let’s not too be hard on Mourinho. Football relies on talent. The more talented the football name the more more they get. Revenues run to the workers. Jeremy Corbyn should enjoy that.
Whether or not Mourinho is overpaid or underpaid is neither here nor there. You could defend Mourinho by looking at the vast amounts of tax he has paid. You could say that a foreigner deciding to spend and invest his cash overseas is to be expected. You could see the taxman as an arbitrary force of state power.
What makes us curious is the power Mourinho enjoys. If the man who was indulged at Chelsea so long as he was winning – witness his hideous treatment of referees and Dr Eva Carneiro – is mired, it is not so much down to him as it is the clubs that stuck him on a pedestal and ignored and deflected criticism of odious behaviour that in any other industry would get him sectioned.
Mourinho’s people say they and he have done nothing wrong. But if he has cheated, the clubs that poo-pooed criticism of his antics and in so doing encouraged belief that he is free to exist outside the laws of acceptable behaviour, need to answer questions, too.