There has been outrage caused in the British football after it has emerged that the Government plans to charge five-a-side teams a tax for using the artificial pitches.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how wrong is this?

Five-a-side football is an English tradition. It has been part of young aspiring footballers as they grow up, often providing the only exercise they are able to achieve outside of school. Getting a five-a-side football kit can be a special moment for any player, whether you play in a league or just go to a pitch for a kick around with some old footballs once or twice a week.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has sparked the row by criticising the plans to introduce the tax in the House of Commons. He says that not only would it push people away from the sport, it would completely undermine the efforts of the Olympics to get more people involved in sport. This comes after Sport England have said that participation levels in small team games, including five-a-side football, have increased. Robertson wants this figure to keep rising in order to fulfill an Olympic legacy for the country.

It is believed that the venues have not had to pay tax on artificial pitches because they were creating an essential service by providing the facilities for people to get involved in sport. The standard VAT tax of 20% will add around £1 to the cost for each player.

Teams usually turn up for league matches and each player pays a sub, usually around £5, to cover the cost of renting the pitch and maintaining the facilities. They have not had to face tax before because of this, but it is now believed that the leagues hire from the companies that create the pitches, including football training equipment and football nets, necessary for the league to function. As this is a separate transaction it makes the leagues liable to pay tax.

Is this such a bad thing?

An extra pound is nothing in today’s game. It probably would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for this spat in the Commons. A pound won’t get you a cheap football kit, and it will hardly get you any football accessories.

If that £1 goes towards helping the economy, surely that’s good. If the numbers of people playing five-a-side and other similar sports are increasing as much as we are led to believe, it’s unlikely that a rise in price of £1 will shoo people away. It costs tenfold that even to buy a pair of cheap goalkeeper gloves, so if I were Hugh Robertson I wouldn’t be worried.

He also says that they are trying to prise kids away from video games and the Internet by getting them playing outside, to create a healthier Britain and increase the possibility of creating tournament-winning players for the future. The VAT on video games can be over £10 in some cases though. If the kids really want to go and play, would parents rather pay for 10 sessions of five-a-side football than buy the latest copy of FIFA?


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