RFL asks government to extend VAT reduction to tickets for sports events

The RFL has called for the government to extend the VAT cut to admission to sporting events.

On July 8, the government announced a temporary reduction in VAT for admission to events and attractions including theatres, concerts, museums and amusement parks.

A reduction in VAT from the standard rate of 20% to 5% will be in effect from July 15 to January 12, 2021. However, the government made clear that this reduction does not apply to admission to sporting events and fixtures.

The RFL has now joined other sports in asking the government to extend the VAT cut to admission to sporting events.

An RFL statement read: “The RFL joins other sports in asking Government to extend the VAT cut to admission to sporting events:

“Doing so would achieve considerable benefits for the sports sector including rugby league:

  • New people – A large number of sports and sports events are in the process of developing audiences and are not yet close to sell-out status. Therefore, this would stimulate purchasing as it will for the attractions included, getting more £s moving in the economy
  • More people attending sports events – as they become part of our lives again – would be a net benefit to the economy
  • Supports majority of sports clubs – which are nowhere near the size of top flight football  – this is where the majority of UK sport is size-wise; and the government would be aiding cash flow, and building confidence, at a critical time for community based businesses
  • Women’s sport could be a particular beneficiary – more tickets, more attendees, more support – a welcome stimulus
  • Season tickets 
    • Sports including rugby league clubs will go on sale with tickets for season 2021 when a restarted Season 2020 is still underway (and clubs are managing all the effects of the lockdown)
    • Encouraging and stimulating sports event ticket purchases now aids cash flow and adds to the confidence that the economy is opening up
  • Events – including the Rugby League World Cup 2021
    • People could ‘buy forward’ i.e. for a major sporting event taking place in several months’ time
    • The Rugby League World Cup goes on sale in September – with the first period of sale to registered rugby league fans and then go on open sale
    • This is a significant opportunity to bring ticket buying forward and promote a wholly positive message which passes on a benefit to the consumer
  • Hospitality – this is a significant part of most sports, most of the time – and stimulus here can only be welcome.”

RFL chief operating officer, Tony Sutton, said: “Together with other sports we are asking government to look again and not to miss this opportunity to put sport on a par with hospitality, arts and culture.

“Like those sectors, we offer live, in-person, close proximity events and therefore face the same financial challenges as a result of COVID-19. Extending the VAT cut to sports tickets as well as other admissions tickets would provide an immediate boost to the sector which is under great pressure.

“Just as people are being encouraged to return to cafes and restaurants through the ‘Eat Out to Help Out Scheme’, the Government can encourage the public to return to, and support, sports which were forced to close as a result of lockdown.

“The return of spectators to sporting events, when it is safe to do so, is key to supporting jobs and the long-term financial security of the whole sports sector – just as returning to restaurants or theme parks matters to those sectors. Watching sport again is good for our collective mental health and the nation’s psyche as we come out of a difficult time and the nation recovers.

“A VAT reduction on ticket sales could have significant benefits for the cash flow of clubs, including rugby league clubs, as well as being a direct benefit to the customer.

“For all these reasons, the RFL urges government to extend the VAT reduction for admission to events to sporting events.”

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