Anton, come join us, smell the sweet, sweet smell of tax free money
David Conn’s article in the Guardian focuses on Anton Zingarevich, the owner of Reading and the son of billionaire businessman Boris Zingarevich. The younger Zingarevich owns the club via Thames Sports Investment which is offshored in Gibraltar, a tax haven for owners who avoid paying capital gains taxes or stamp duty should they sell their shares for a profit in the future. It’s a growing trend with the Glazer family moving their registration the the Cayman Islands, and it begets the question of tax fairness which has become one of the centrepieces of the US presidential elections.
Conn is a fine journalist and his articles are impeccably timed with a view to setting off a round of inevitable teeth gnashing and angst at the commodification of a slice of English history by outside investors with few qualms shafting the very system they are buying into. But there is little one can do apart from b and m. The fans want their clubs to win, spend money on high priced transfers who will do that, and end years of being born with a wooden spoon.
A few years ago, City’s marquee players were Paul Dickov and Giorgios Samaras in a club that flitted in and out of the Premier League. Now, it’s a club that pays Roque Santa Cruz to keep away from the Etihad while they chase the likes of Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli with stratospheric sums of money. It all worked out last season when City won their first top division title in 44 years.
Reading fans are the same too. They were a great little team to watch under Steve Coppell and that first Premiership season they overachieved with players like Kevin Doyle and Steve Sidwell. Second year they fell back to earth returning to the Championship. They fully well know the perils of chronically underfunded clubs. But under the new ownership with the promise of Roman Abramovich type of money they probably expect more. Parking money in overseas tax shelters by an owner with a fine looking wife is a mere technicality if fans can fulfill their desire for instant gratification.