They’re not singing on the terraces any more…

WIGAN Athletic is the latest organisation to come out and criticise the current business rates system after it faces a bill more than six times the average for a League One club.

One of the main issues it seems is due to the revaluation postponement which means the Club is being valued on its 2008 income when it was riding high in the Premier League – not present day where we see the club slumping to its lowest League One rankings for a decade.

The club claims the system has calculated the business rates payable on the DW Stadium at over TWICE the amount of any other League One club, over 6x times the average for clubs in the division and 36x times more than the lowest amount in League One. According to recent data, the average business rates payable this year by the clubs who were in League One during the 2014-15 season will be just under £88,500, and Fleetwood Town happily languishing at the bottom of this table at £16,269.

Yet Wigan are said to be paying £591,600 in 2015-16 – the highest figures ever charged to the club. The last time Wigan were in League One, in 2003, the rates payable were £133,285.

Rateable Values (RVs) of most businesses premises are not based upon the income of the business but those for football stadia are calculated according to a number of factors including the total income generated by the stadium and, to a lesser extent, the capacity of the stadium and average attendance figures.

RVs are normally set every five years, with the current 2010 valuation actually based upon the clubs’ income during 2008, the year the initial calculation was made. However, the next revaluation has been put back two years to 2017 skewing those figures.

So, in this case, although the income for this coming season including Premier League payments, will be around one third of what it was in 2008, the business rates bill is almost four and a half times bigger.

On paper it does seem very unfair but somehow I don’t think the Government or the VOA’s focus right now is on the financial suffering of a League One Club.

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I think some of the facts need checking here! Rates are not a function of club turnover. They are a function of the size and quality of the physical structure. Some clubs may benefit from adjustments according to their relative income at the statutory valuation date (April 2008). Coventry City do not currently pay any rates directly on the stadium they use and share. In common with all businesses in the UK rating assessments must reflect the economic climate at the same valuation date. There may be a fault with the rating system and a need to revalue and keep pace with shifts in the market, but this is not unique to football. Some clarification is required please!

By Richard Wackett FRICS