Usain Bolt may not run at Commonwealth Games unless tax law changes


Shona Robinson wants to see the exemption extended to the Commonwealth Games

By Cara Sulieman

TOP ATHLETES may chose not to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow because of UK tax rules.

The tax man takes a cut of any sponsorship earned by non-UK resident sportsmen who appear at events in Britain.

Big events like the London Olympics and the World Cup England is bidding for are exempt.

But the Inland Revenue have NOT exempt the Commonwealth Games from the rules – leaving politicians fearing that athletes like Usain Bolt will fail to show.

The sprinter has not competed in the UK this year and has said he won’t come to the country before the Olympics if the rules don’t change.

Scottish Sports Minister Shona Robison is set to meet senior ministers in London tomorrow to ask them to include the Commonwealth Games in their exemption.

Tax rules state that any payment received thanks to a UK appearance by a sports person who is not a resident is subject to tax at the basic rate – currently 20 per cent.

Sponsorship or endorsement can include the use of branded sports equipment and can include UK appearances during the sponsorship period.

As well as Usain Bolt’s comments, it is claimed that this year’s Championship League final was held in Madrid instead of London because of these rules.

As a result, Westminster passed the Finance Act 2010 which introduced legislation for the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley to be exempt.

Scottish Sports minister Shona Robison is hopeful that her trip to the capital will lead to a number of Scottish sporting events also becoming exempt from the rules.

She said: “Usain Bolt is just one example, but I suspect this could be the tip of the iceberg.

“It could affect a number of top athletes in a number of sports, who might decide not to come.

“I’m going to ask for an exemption for the Commonwealth Games in 2014, and Ryder Cup the same year, along with a number of events.

“A number of English sporting events are exempted, but none of the major sporting events in Scotland.

“We expect parity for major international sporting events.”

She will meet Westminster Cabinet Minister Jeremy Hunt, Culture Minister John Penrose and Sport Minister High Robertson tomorrow morning to make the case for an exemption for the Commonwealth Games.