Published: 13:00, 12 September 2020
| Updated: 13:49, 12 September 2020
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has hit out at demands made on the club by HMRC.
HM Revenue and Customs appear to be getting tough on lower-league football clubs, insisting Gills' outstanding tax bill is paid in full and in one lump sum, but with many hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Scally believes now is not the time.
Mr Scally met with Gillingham & Rainham MP Rehman Chishti last week to discus his and other clubs’ concerns.
The Gills chairman issues a statement, through the club, saying: “I am grateful for the support of our local MP and I’m staggered that the revenue are taking such a harsh and unrealistic approach with football, especially Leagues 1 and 2.
“Whilst all football clubs appreciate their responsibilities in paying these monies, given that there has been no significant increase in income, or income indeed at all, from the 29th of February when we played our last home league game, I am bewildered as to why the revenue is now taking this position given that nothing much has changed in the last five or six months.
“We have actually put forward a very reasonable, we believe, proposal to HMRC to pay this deferred money over the next 24 months, but this has been rejected and they are demanding full payment of all arrears in one lump sum, which is unachievable.”
Mr Chishti was backing the Gills chairman in his stance, labelling the HMRC’s latest proposal as “completely and utterly unacceptable" in regards to the effect of COVID-19 on smaller football clubs in Leagues One and Two.
He added: “Having previously spoken to the (Gillingham) chairman just ahead of the Covid restrictions, I raised the matter with Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, on the floor of the house, to say what support was going to be given to lower league football clubs and he said the treasury were looking at measures to support lower league football clubs and, of course, I welcome the government’s support through the furlough schemes, of which clubs like Gillingham did benefit from.
“However, the latest announcement from HMRC to say they want payments in lump sums, at the moment, for me is completely unacceptable taking into account the various different challenges smaller clubs are facing, so I will be asking the chancellor to look at this issue and what can be done to ensure that payments that have been asked to pay back are structured in a way which is fair to local clubs. It’s not an issue just facing Gillingham, it’s facing other national clubs and therefore I will speak to other parliamentary colleagues, as I did previously, and raise with the chancellor.”