Football clubs 'more interested in bling than charity'

Premiership football clubs have been blasted for their "staggeringly low" donations to charity after scrutiny of their annual reports revealed total gifts amounted to just £400,000.

Donor information website Intelligent Giving criticised the clubs after it did an audit which showed that almost all the 20 clubs in English football's top division gave less than 0.1 per cent of their turnover to charity last year, despite having a combined turnover in excess of £1 billion.

Intelligent Giving was able to look into the figures because company law dictates that all organisations must declare charitable giving of more than £200 in one year.

Financial heavyweights such as premiership title-holders Chelsea, which is bankrolled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich and has an annual turnover of more than £122m, gave just £7,000. Nine clubs, including Liverpool and West Ham United, gave nothing at all, their accounts showed.

But Tottenham Hotspur did spend £4.5m setting up a charitable trust which will make future donations to charity.

Neill Ghosh, head researcher at Intelligent Giving, said he was surprised at the small amounts of cash donated. "While football clubs may say they do a lot for their local communities, the amount of hard cash they give to charity each year is staggeringly low," he said. "We would expect them to be giving more. They go on about all this stuff they do in the community but a lot of it appears to be show."

Ghosh added that some clubs run soccer schools for local children, but often charge for the service.

"These figures smack of an industry more interested in pandering to the bling-laden lifestyles of its workforce than in giving back to society," he said.

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