Language Training For Football Clubs

“When you look back at all the British football players who have been successful playing abroad, it is the ones who have got themselves into the culture, learnt the language, and made their life enjoyable. Throw your heart and soul into it and more than anything learn the language, because I think if you can be happy and communicate off the pitch that will reflect in your football and how things go on the pitch.” Gary Lineker, September 1st , 2013, interview for BBC

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At LinguaTracks we also believe communication is crucial for the success of a football team. With the ever expanding foreign influence on the UK game we are extremely aware of the need to integrate the players, staff and their families into their new surroundings as efficiently and smoothly as possible.

 

The margins between success and failure in football are very fine. A player and his family that adapts quickly to a new language, culture and surroundings will become an immediate asset to their club. These in turn can only aid and increase immediate performance levels. We want to help you maximise the potential of your staff immediately.

ba7af65355c46ab08675812aa29ef943We sometimes take it for granted that, being immersed in the language, foreign players are going to acquire English and that they do not need support. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The problem with communication in the modern game is apparent. Following the comments and articles concerning sports in general we have notice a rising number of issues on the basic level of communication. This issue directly influences the quality of the game and therefore, the performance of players. To exemplify this we have found numerous articles expressing difficulties they have experienced.

 

Paolo Di Canio: ¨Every session you can see that everything is going OK, then when we practise something, there’s a misunderstanding. A British player says: ‘You squeeze up,’ and the French player or the Italian can’t understand. I stop the session.¨ Source: The Guardian, The Guardian article about Paolo Di Canio

Training photo

Harry Redknapp “It’s a crazy situation. We’ve got three people who can’t speak English. What is the good when you have got people and you cannot even tell them what to do?” Source: BBC Sport: BBC Sport article about Harry Redknapp

This is the reason we have decided to step in and solve this ever-expanding problem for football clubs.

LinguaTracks is a dynamic and fast growing provider of language training to clients across a broad range of industries. We specialize in maximizing results and clearly demonstrating fast and efficient improvement in communication skills. After achieving significant recognition for our services across Europe, we have now created a dynamic and bespoke set of courses aimed entirely at teams in the Premiership and across the football league. There is too much football talent being hindered just because of language barriers, we are here to break them!

We know that communication is a crucial part of teamwork and achieving objectives together. The courses will focus on improving players language skills on and off the pitch. This ranges from on pitch colloquialisms, to interview techniques and every day interactions.

We have established our own unique Sport and Cultural integration Methodology. Its main principles focus on immediate immersion and effective usage of the target language on and off the pitch.

We feel that the future of British football is to have an experienced language company you can trust to provide your linguistic training. The course has been created in collaboration with a former FC Barcelona language training provider, who has taken part in the creation of the project. We understand that all footballers and clubs have their own unique history, which must be respected and we are able to adapt our courses to the needs of our clients.

The main rules we follow are:

- We believe that that it is essential to start with the basics and make the player acquire the one hundred most often used football language terms.
- Later on we integrate real-life materials from the clubs history to make the students feel welcome and ¨at home¨ playing for the new team. This will help him build a rapport with fans.
- We will help the player develop off-pitch communication skills, which will help him settle into the new culture.
- We will introduce on-pitch colloquial language and help the player understand what is required of him

If you think this issue concerns you and your club, do not hesitate to contact us!

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www.linguatracks.com

Info@linguatracks.com

+34651072619

+447930084735

Skype: linguatracks

Link to FC language course offer -

http://business.linguatracks.com/offer/language-training-for-football-clubs/?lang=en

Tax Avoidance – A Question of Morality?

First it was Jimmy Carr and the comedians, then it was Starbucks, Amazon & Google and now Premier League football clubs have been reported to be avoiding paying corporation tax. The public up roar and the media interest has led many to believe that avoiding tax is criminal, however it is not and it is important to make a clear distinction between tax evasion and tax avoidance

Tax evasion is in quite simply unlawful and can expose the taxpayer to penalties. Examples include giving inaccurate information or describing a transaction as something different from what it really is. It is basically a form of deception.

Tax Avoidance however has developed over a number of years in to what we have today in artificial schemes by which a sequence of transactions is undertaken for the sole purpose of mitigating a tax burden much like what has been reported in the media.

I have taken a quote from the judge in the tax case Duke of Westminster 35 that perhaps sums it up the best “A taxpayer may have a choice between two or more alternative methods of achieving a desired result. He is entitled to select the method, if lawful which avoids altogether or reduces the tax he would pay on another alternative. He is not to be taxed on the basis that a more normal method would attract a heavier tax burden. The selection of a tax effective method is called tax avoidance”

It is hard to stomach that Premier League Clubs such as Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United paid no tax on a combined surplus of £70m. The Independent reported that more than £150m of profits were made by Premier League clubs yet only £3m in corporation tax was paid an effective rate of 2% tax. You may ask yourself how the clubs are managing to do this.

Legally and with effective use of the accounting system Premier League football clubs have been able to reduce their corporation tax by offsetting profits against prior year losses. Furthermore the reduction in corporation tax from 28 down to 24 per cent has seen tax bills lower further. Clubs are also able to make great use of player transfer fees as these can be written off over the period of a player contract this could lead to an amount of deferred tax. This is slightly different to the tax avoidance which has been implemented by the likes of Starbucks however it goes to show the ease of a company to avoid paying corporation tax in full.

The question for many is not whether it is illegal it is a question or morality is it right that these profitable football clubs should be paying very little or no corporation tax. My view is simple. It is not the clubs fault; it is the fault of the government and HMRC are they making it too easy for companies to avoid tax? UK Tax legislation is extremely vast and complicated; there is many a loop hole which has been taken advantage of. Tax avoidance is legal and as long as it is legal companies (including football clubs) will be doing all they can to pay as little corporation tax as possible and let’s not forgot these football clubs do pay other taxes such as PAYE and National Insurance.

The government and HMRC need to have a thorough review of corporation tax and how this is structured. It has been reported that in tomorrow’s autumn statement the Chancellor will be announcing a large clamp down on tax avoidance. Reports of naming and shaming tax dodgers could be seen as one way to stop a few from avoiding tax but this leads to the question does bring the integrity of our tax system into light. I think we need to work closely with HMRC, provide larger resources in totally reforming the corporation tax system and dare I say it even abolishing it completely!

Mitch Young

Follow me on my blog www.mitchthetaxman.com or on Twitter @MitchTheTaxMan

 

The Football League FFP Rules

On 25 April 2012, the Football League announced that following two years of discussions, a Financial Fair Play model (the “Football League FFP Rules”) would be introduced to cover all three of its divisions (the Championship, League One and League Two) from the beginning of the 2012/13 season.

This article examines the Football League FFP Rules and their practical, commercial and possible legal consequences.

The Football League FFP Rules

During the consultation period leading up to the introduction of the Football League FFP Rules, the Football League allowed each division to decide on the format of their own respective rules. Clubs in the Championship decided to embrace a ‘break-even’ approach, similar to the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, however Leagues One and Two have adopted the ‘Salary Cost Management Protocol’ (the “SCMP”) which seeks to limit player wage expenditure to a proportion of turnover.

The Championship

The Championship has adopted a similar system to UEFA Financial Fair Play, where clubs must seek to balance their income and expenditure to ‘break-even’. Each season, on 1 December, clubs must submit accounts to the Football League to show a profit-loss before tax (excluding specific investment (e.g. infrastructure costs, youth development, and promotion related bonuses) or losses of an extraordinary nature (e.g default of debtor clubs or sponsors)) which must be show profit, break even or a loss less than the total of the permitted acceptable deviation and shareholder equity investment. A club is allowed to appeal to the Financial Fair Play Panel to argue that certain expenditure should be deemed “extraordinary” for the purposes of the break-even calculation, should it need to do so.

Season 2011/12 2012/23 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 onwards
Acceptable deviation £4m £4m £3m £3m £2m
Sharholder equity investment £8m £6m £5m £3m £3m
Total permitted allowance £12m £10m £8m £6m £5m

The first reporting period for the Championship will be for the current season (2011/12), with accounts to be submitted to the Football League on 1 December 2012. Despite this, there will be no sanctions imposed on any clubs who breach the rules during the first two seasons (2012/13 and 2013/14) which allows for transitionary measures to be implemented. However, from the 2014/15 season, robust sanctions will be introduced for any clubs which breach the rules, which will differ depending on whether the club is promoted to the Premier League, remains in the Championship or is relegated to League One.

If a Championship club breaches the Football League FFP Rules and is promoted to the Premier League, that club will be required to pay a ‘Fair Play Tax’, which ranges from 1% of the excess between £1 and £100,000, up to 100% of any excess over £10,000,000. This can have a very profound effect on the club, as is indicated below. Any ‘Fair Play Tax’ paid by promoted clubs will be redistributed to those clubs in the Championship who have complied with the Football League FFP Rules.

If a club breaches the Football League FFP Rules and remains in the Championship, that club will be subject to a transfer embargo which starts from the transfer window immediately following the submission of the accounts (i.e. the January transfer window) until such time as that club is able to file accounts which adhere to the Football League FFP Rules. That club will also not be eligible to receive any monies from Financial Fair Play Taxes imposed on promoted clubs. The Football League have confirmed that the form of the transfer embargo will ordinarily be to prevent any further players coming into the club, but may also restrict players leaving the club, if to do so would reduce the squad size to such an extent that the club may not be able to fulfil its remaining fixtures.

If a club breaches the Football League FFP Rules and is relegated to League One, that club will not be eligible to receive any monies from the Financial Fair Play Taxes imposed on promoted clubs and will then be subject to the Football League FFP Rules of League One. However, such a club will not be subject to a transfer embargo, unless in so going down it then surpasses the SCMP threshold (see below).

While some may argue that it is unfair, based on the considerable parachute payments that are awarded to relegated clubs by the Premier League, clubs that are relegated from the Premier League will not be subject to the Football League FFP Rules in their first season in the Championship, however, should they be promoted in that season, they will be subject to the Financial Fair Play Tax should they contravene the regulations during that season. A relegated club could therefore not simply ‘buy’ a route out of the Championship.

Leagues One and Two

As opposed to a break-even approach, clubs in Leagues One and Two have decided to embrace the SCMP. The SCMP, which has been used in League Two since 2002/03, seeks to limit expenditure on wages to a percentage of a club’s turnover. Clubs must submit account information to the Football League at the start of each season and continue to do so as the season progresses. Any clubs which breach the relevant threshold will be subject to an immediate transfer embargo. In certain circumstances, this embargo will be enforced ‘at source’, where the Football League will not sanction transfers which will put a club above the relevant threshold. A club will not be permitted to register a new player again until either it moves under the threshold, or there is enough budget to afford the wages of a new player (if, for instance, the club sells or releases a player or it increases commercial revenues).

At the beginning of the 2011/12 season, clubs in League Two imposed a threshold of 60%, which will continue during the 2012/13 season.

Clubs in League One are currently ‘piloting’ a 70% SCMP, but without any sanctions being applicable for those clubs which breach the threshold. However, as of the 2012/13 season, a 65% threshold will be imposed, which will reduce to 60% in the 2013/14 season.

Practical consequences

The Football League FFP Rules represent the first real effort in England to either actively combat ‘financial doping’ or to protect clubs from themselves. While the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations (the “UEFA Regulations”) which operate in the Premier League prohibit those clubs contravening the regulations from participation in UEFA sanctioned competitions (i.e. the Champions League and the Europa League), the effectiveness of the UEFA Regulations can be questioned, based on their rather lenient acceptable deviations. Further, the majority of Premier League clubs are effectively not subject to the UEFA Regulations, as they only affect those clubs seeking to participate in European competitions; newly promoted clubs, for instance, have no incentive to comply with the UEFA Regulations. In fact, it may be seen as prudent for these clubs to invest in their squad to maintain their Premier League position, notwithstanding that in doing so they will be in breach of the UEFA Regulations.

The Football League FFP Rules will have a profound effect on clubs within the Championship, who now have two seasons to put themselves into a position where they are in compliance. Unless clubs seek to invest heavily in their squads with a view of gaining promotion to the Premier League before the 2014/15 season, the introduction of the Football League FFP rules will require significant changes in the way that clubs are run. From the practical inception of the Football League FFP Rules, Championship clubs will not be able to operate on losses of more than £8,000,000, reducing steeply thereafter each season. It is clear that should Championship clubs contravene the regulations and fail to get promoted, a severe punishment in the form a transfer embargo will be imposed, which will clearly affect the ability of the club to be promoted in the future. Further, should a club brazenly ignore the regulations and gain promotion, the effects could be more profound, at least financially. If a club promoted to the Premier League has a profit-loss deficit of £15,000,000 (after acceptable deviation and shareholder equity investment), it will have a ‘Fair Play Tax Bill’ of £11,681,000. While some may still invest and merely see the tax as a cost associated with promotion to the footballing and commercial ‘promised land’ of the Premier League, should that club fail to gain promotion in such circumstances, then a transfer embargo would be imposed on that club, which could remain in place for the foreseeable future (i.e. until that club can comply with the Football League FFP Rules). As such, to some extent, the Football League FFP Rules are inescapable.

The SCMP that is in operation in Leagues One and Two has been in force for some time (it has operated in League Two since the 2002/03 season). While the SCMP has been in force this season in League One (at a threshold of 75%), no sanctions have been imposed on clubs surpassing the threshold. However, in the 2012/13 season, the SCMP will come into force in League One, when the threshold will be reduced to 65% (decreasing each season thereafter) and sanctions will be imposed on those clubs breaching the rules. To an extent, the SCMP will have a less profound effect upon those clubs in League One and Two as the ‘break-even’ rule will have on clubs within the Championship, however the threat of a transfer embargo should certainly not be ignored. An ambitious club in League Two that spends beyond its means would be subject to an embargo in League One, should it be promoted. At the exact time when such a club needs to make investment, it will effectively have its wings clipped.

COMMERCIAL

As with the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, the most prudent way for a club to operate under the Football League FFP Rules is to seek to lower wages and expenditure on transfer fees, whilst attempting to boost commercial revenues. If a club can do all three simultaneously, that club is likely to enjoy a relatively fruitful future (at least financially speaking).

However, the reality is that many clubs may not be able to perfect this trifecta for some time. While a club may seek to sell players with relatively large wages, it does not necessarily mean that they will be able to do so, especially when one considers the restricting effect of the transfer window. Further, such players may not be of a high enough calibre to justify another club, whether or not subject to the Football League FFP Reuglations, to spend such sums on the services of that player. In light of the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, Premier League clubs have been able to reduce their wage bills by selling unwanted (but still international standard) players abroad; for clubs in the Football League selling ‘lesser’ players may be more difficult.

Away from the playing field, in a commercial sense, it is quite clear that Premier League clubs have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy, a considerable advantage over clubs in the Football League in any attempt to increase income through commercial avenues. In the past, the Championship has been an attractive playground for football players, who have been able to find similar (if not better) remuneration in England’s second tier, than would have been possible in top flight competitions elsewhere in Europe. While this ‘overspending’ has led to a wage to revenue ratio of 88% in the Championship (according to Deloitte figures) and fairly widespread financial difficulty, it has allowed the Championship to maintain a comparatively high level of football, which in turn has driven revenues both from commercial sources and ticket sales. The constraint that will be imposed upon Championship clubs from the 2014/15 season may threaten its attractiveness to sponsors and fans alike. Lest it be forgotten that the Championship has averaged higher attendances than many of Europe’s top flight divisions in recent years, and this by no part down to the protagonists on the field of play. Should commercial revenues fall, so too must transfer spending and wages; it is not hard to see a spiral effect emerging. In any event, these ‘well run’ clubs would still benefit if others around them are subject to sanctions under the Football League FFP Rules.

However, the introduction of the Football League FFP Rules would not necessarily be all doom and gloom. Football League research has indicated that collective debt in the Football League could reach £2 billion. In the current economic climate where investors willing to rescue ailing clubs are no longer stepping forward, clubs should be actively encouraged (or if not encouraged, forced) to seek a sound financial footing. While all clubs see the advantages of being promoted in the short term, perhaps what is best in the uncertain years to come, is sound financial management.

Further, the Football League FFP Rules should now mean that clubs who foster young talent to sell or otherwise deal wisely in the transfer market will be able to benefit for their success. Currently, despite Southampton FC fostering the talents of Theo Walcott and Gareth Bale, amongst others, their spending power relative to clubs such as Leicester City FC and West Ham United FC is still relatively small.

LEGAL

Unlike the introduction of the Home Grown quota which operates in European competition and in many of Europe’s leagues, the legality of which could be questioned before a European court, any challenge to the Football League FFP Rules would be likely to lack foundation, based on the fact that clubs in the Football League have agreed to have these constraints imposed upon them. Just as clubs in the Basque region of Spain have in the past artificially imposed upon themselves rules against fielding any player without a Basque origin, so too have Football League clubs created artificial barriers for themselves.

While a Premier League club demoted to the Championship, or a team from the Blue Square Premier promoted to League Two could argue that they were not signatories to the original agreement and therefore should not be subject to the effects of the Football League FFP Rules, Rule 3.1 of the Football League Rules states that to be a member of the Football League, each club must agree to “be bound and comply with… [the Football League Regulations] [and] the terms of any agreement entered into by the [Football League]”. Any argument is therefore likely to fall on deaf ears. In any event, it is still open for a club relegated to the Premier League to refuse to enter the Football League and instead join the Blue Square Premier.

CONCLUSION

One could certainly make a convincing argument that the introduction of the Football League FFP Rules is a good idea. Indeed, clubs in the Football League have imposed the rules upon themselves. However, while it has become increasingly clear that football clubs need to manage their finances in a more sound fashion, any changes made should not risk the commercial viability of the Football League.

Darryl Taylor, currently of Squire Sanders (UK) LLP can be found on LinkedIn and contacted by email at darryl.taylor@squiresanders.com and by telephone on +44 207 655 1000.

The content of the article represents the views of the author and in no way represents the views of Squire Sanders (UK) LLP

Keep DataCo or lose 10 Scottish League football clubs – the decision is yours

How the newspapers overcame a recent photo ban at Southampton. Could we be seeing more of this soon?


Yet again, the press and the football industry find themselves at war over the controversial DataCo licensing agreement. Those following Twitter or people that always keep an eye on the press box during a match would have noticed a few empty spaces as clubs started their League campaigns this weekend.
That’s because newspapers and newswires have yet to sign a new agreement with Football DataCo over rights to enter games and photographic rights. As a result, many boycotted the opening games of the new League season or resorted to guerilla tactics such as buying a ticket and watching the games from the stands or ‘blacking out’ sponsor names on the pictures of shirts.
Veteran readers of F.C. Business magazine will know this is a subject I have covered before. DataCo argue there is value in the data football matches generate and access to cover them should be paid for accordingly. The newspaper and newswires argue to charge to cover matches is a restriction of the free press and that the coverage they give is worth billions of pounds a year to league and team sponsors. Both are valid points.
But then we then get into the regular pre-season brinkmanship which seems to surround this contract. Negotiations seem to be going swimmingly and then, suddenly, a controversial new clause is put in the day before the season starts and all hell breaks loose.
The result, a stalemate where no-one wins and the biggest loser is the loyal fan –bereft of a key source of coverage.
Let me share some facts with you which may put into focus the value of DataCo cash to the clubs. Unlike most of the rest of football, the revenues made from selling DataCo licences to publish this information is shared with a bias towards the SMALLER league clubs. The Premier League only sees about 5% of DataCo revenue, whereas for some Scottish Third Division teams, the DataCo cheque can account for nearly half of their turnover. The smaller leagues (English 2 and Scots 2 and 3 – get about 80 percent of all DataCo money.
Pull that away, and you can make a fair assumption that at least 10 Scottish Football League clubs will be under severe financial strain – and will go into administration, possibly even liquidation. Does the newspaper industry want to be responsible for the death of a third of Scottish League football?
On the opposite side of the debate – this is the wrong time to be picking a fight with newspapers. They are struggling from a combination of a sluggish economy and a changing business model. Despite the growth of new media, they are still a key voice in local sport and the only commercial mass-market media in many communities now that ITV and many radio groups have given up covering local sport.
Then again, newspapers have benefitted from some of the pricey rules imposed by DataCo. DataCo requires any website that shows a club badge to pay it for the licence to do that. Go on the blogosphere and you can easily find out what bedroom-blogging fans think of that concept. The truth is that the price of DataCo licences is so high that is has priced out any blogging fan from having a serious crack at taking on the newspaper industry’s dominance of football reporting online.
Add to this the growth in the use of Twitter by the fans and the fact that some people are already creating a virtual stats feed from their mobiles during the match, and you can see that it is technology which will drive the debate about DataCo, not the newspapers.

Bad Losers?

We do not want to dwell on what happened in Zurich, and yes we did take it pretty badly, but with all sides locked in a verbal battle over whom was to blame it’s not been easy to escape.

The charming Jack Warner blamed the media, as did some of the other FIFA exco members and Blatter was more eloquent in his dismissal of our bid. But maybe losing out wasn’t all that bad after all?

Last week the Government launched a public inquiry into the way football is governed in the UK. They propose to encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters, and there is widespread concern that the current governance arrangements are not fit-for-purpose.

Also that
week, the FA launched it’s ‘The Future Game – Grassroots’ initiative aimed at encouraging a new way of coaching young players in the UK. Running in line with the FA’s new coaching philosophy; the hope is to produce enough technically gifted players to fill a national team that doesn’t consistently disappoint!

So were FIFA right not award us the World Cup in 2018? It certainly seems as if the game in the UK is broken and in need of serious repair. Maybe all that cash earmarked for the World Cup will be spent fixing football’s inherent ills?

What can be said is that football in the UK has had a wake up call, and we now have a chance to help push real change within the football industry. By getting involved we can help make a difference for the good of the game by encouraging a new way of thinking both on and off the pitch.