From this morning's Guardian:
The scale of debt under which many of England's top football clubs now labour (Questions over health of Premier League, Sport, 19 May) is indeed a matter of concern. So too is the number of top-flight football clubs now based offshore. Owners using tax havens have been able to hide the financial meltdown of a number of clubs from view until too late. Stakeholders, club supporters in particular, have been betrayed and the football authorities caught napping.
Christian Aid recently sought to establish the true ownership of every club in the four top English leagues, the Scottish and Welsh Premier leagues and the Irish League in Northern Ireland. We discovered that 14 English Premier League clubs and a further five in the Championship, together with one in League One and two in the Scottish Premier League, were now based offshore.
In the developing world, that same secrecy leads to tax dodging on a truly massive scale. We estimate that every year, the revenue lost to developing countries amounts to $160bn – around one-and-a-half times the size of the international aid budget. If available to use, it could save the lives of some 350,000 children under five every year. Financial secrecy comes at a price. For football fans, it can jeopardise the existence of their clubs. In developing countries, financial secrecy costs lives.
Chief policy adviser, Christian Aid