The Offshore Game

April 20th, 2015

This report and website looks at the way offshore financing and ownership structures have infiltrated football clubs in the England and Scotland.

Offshore finance, once a niche industry confined to the basements of some of the less scrupulous banks, accountancy firms and criminal gangs has come to dominate every aspect of economic life, including sports. The last ten years have seen an increasing number of clubs being taken over by offshore entities to the point where the largest of the British Virgin Islands (Tortola, population: 23,908) is home to more companies owning teams in the football leagues than there are teams in Leeds, Liverpool, Bradford, Hull, Bristol or indeed most towns and cities in the United Kingdom.

There is no single reason of why clubs are held offshore. A common reason can be the lower taxes and fewer regulations available in tax havens. It can be from a general desire for secrecy and confidentiality or simply a product of the fact that the owner may already own a business empire offshore and wants to add a football club to it. It may be that the owner lives offshore. It may be that it is just the way business is done in the country where they operate. The structures and the purpose of offshore holding companies are often more dependent on the needs of the owners than the club.

Download the report here


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