It's hard work being a footballer these days. Not only do you have to spend your mornings kicking balls round a field, with nothing to look forward but an afternoon in front of the PlayStation and a night quaffing Cristal while fending off models in Chinawhites, you’re now expected to be a bona fide businessman – forced to worry about things like image rights and appearance fees.
Take Chelsea captain John Terry, a director of his JGT Promotions. Unfortunately, he’s clearly about as good with balance sheets as he is with match-winning penalties – according to credit experts Creditsafe, JGT has been served with a county court judgement, meaning that the business has not satisfied its debt payments with one of its creditors. But although JT may have ‘slipped up’ here, there’s no need to call full-time on the company just yet – apparently it still maintains ‘good creditworthiness’.
And it’s not just Terry who’s been transferring his talents from the bootroom to the boardroom. Almost all the England squad are directors of their own companies or limited liability partnerships. Striker Michael Owen has six directorships, while Wayne Rooney has five. (Coincidentally, this is also the total number of goals he’s scored for England since their exit from Euro 2004. More focus please, Wayne).
So, what kind of companies do our under-achieving England heroes get involved with? In our celebrity-driven culture, it shouldn’t surprise us that they’re especially attracted to the movie world, with Owen, Rooney, David Beckham and Frank Lampard all holding directorships with film companies. We just hope they’re being careful in their ventures. Although Vinnie Jones has made a successful transition from football to the film business, he is definitely the exception to the rule – as those of you who remember the less-than-sterling acting performances of Pele and the late Bobby Moore in the football/POW yarn ‘Escape to Victory’ will know. It left most viewers feeling sick as a parrot.
On the other hand – call us cynical, but we’re guessing it’s not the creative urge that drives so many footballers into film company directorships. The opportunity to mitigate tax liabilities might also have something to do with it. Even if you’re earning £100k a week – in fact especially if you’re earning £100k per week – the chance to mitigate your income tax bills by channelling money through a company (thus ensuring that some of this is paid out as corporation tax and allowing you to take money out as tax-light dividends) is not something to be sniffed at. As the saying goes: the boys done good.