Tax rule change to boost Wembley Champions League bid

The British government have opened the way for the 2011 Champions League final to be played at Wembley after announcing the players involved will be exempt from tax charges if they play for foreign teams.

Under current law, even sports stars based overseas could be liable to pay tax on earnings from bonuses and endorsements if they appear at UK events.

UEFA said they were unwilling to award the final to Wembley while the system still operated and the Treasury have now written to the Football Association to say they have awarded an exemption for the 2011 showpiece.

A decision on the 2011 venue will now be taken by European football’s governing body in the autumn but it is expected they will award the final to Wembley.

The exemption was announced by Andy Burnham, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, in the House of Commons today.

Burnham 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.”

The cost to the Treasury is an estimated £1.5m a year but the tax has not been collected at similar events in the past, such as when the final was played between two Italian sides at Old Trafford in 2005.

Burnham will also press for the exemption will be extended to other sports events involving stars based overseas.

Germany had a similar tax rule but they have already reached an agreement with UEFA that it will be waived.

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