Walsall FC - My View - The Response to the letter


I’m not disagreeing with you Saddla (you seem well versed in these matters) but I’m struggling with the general concept suggested that pension contributions (of any sort) are tax free - I didn’t think they were…

I thought the issue was more relating to tax relief on the contributions not tax paid on them??

If I’m being dense then I apologise :thinking:


Unfortunately, in this particular case, Bernie sounds scarily plausible while talking utter garbage.


Money paid into you pension is tax free. i.e. You do not pay tax on it when it is paid to you by your employer or if you own your own business the contributions made to your pension are tax deductible.


I know that with my pension i can get 25% tax free but after that i pay the standard 20% anything over £11,500


But there are limits on the level of contributions you can pay into a pension (Sipp or not) is that correct?

I’m just confused as to what sort of pension Jeffs got (aside from a bloody big one of course!)

My understanding is that the max personal pension contributions per tax year is £40,000 before penalties apply - is this for PAYE employees only?


The likelihood in any case is that payment of a lower rent would result in LESS tax ultimately being collected by HMRC - making Bernie’s assertion nothing less than empty-headed tosh.

  1. Lower rent will be reflected in higher profit - tax impact on HMRC zero since it would be offset for the foreseeable against large accumulated losses.
  2. Stop banging on about the preferential tax treatment of sums going into the pension scheme - HMRC will be more concerned about the tax impact when monies are extracted or there is a crystallisation event. At this point, dependent on any protections in place, marginal tax rates could turn out to be anything up to c 70% (ouch).


Just caught up with this. Gonna keep that letter to remind myself of why I want wholesale change at our club.


The thing is coop, the rent is not a pension contribution it is rent and although the money goes into the pot it is a commerial transaction like any other rent and there is no limit on the amount. The same applies to the point about shops negotiating reductions. I am sure that HMV could potentially negotiate a reduction in the position they are in, but that does not apply to the Saddlers. We are not going bust and we can afford the rent, that is the option to negotiate gone.

At the end of the day Suffolk Life have rules to adhere to and I don’t think a few football fans will make them change them. I understand that they have 3,500 tenants in various properties and we are just one. Here is an excerpt from their property guide:

Our requirements will be dependent on the type of tenant; if you are a connected tenant we must instruct a valuer to ascertain the market rent applicable and undertake rent reviews
where contained in the lease. We are unable to treat connected tenants more leniently than
any other tenant and rental payments must be made to protect your SIPP from tax penalties.

Potentially, it is not just a case of Bonser saying we will just pay the penalties, it will be Suffolk Life saying we will be negligent if we let you do that. In my opinion those are the facts and there may be other options which I am unaware of but Bonser is a businessman and he does it well, I think we are all aware of that.

We all choose what we do in life and that’s what he chose to be and we are customers and that’s what we chose to be. If he had chosen to run a charity he may have done things differently. I am not supporting him I am just pointing out that we appear to be on a loser keep moaning about the pension or the rent as Gamble was suggesting but not clarifying fully.The only real argument is to find out how much rent other clubs are paying and compare but that will be very difficult as the circumstances are always different.

I might be wrong, I don;t know for sure.


West Ham pay £1.5m rent in London for 60,000 seats.

That’s circa £25 per seat per annum, think we pay almost double that.


Aren’t the big differences of that situ:

The owner of club isn’t the owner of the stadium

The rent is negotiable between the 2 parties

Thanks for the rationale by the way Optimistic


Am I correct in saying the club paid to build the stadium and own it but pay rent on the land its built on, similar to a house being leasehold. West ham own neither the stadium or land so rent both?


As stated above the “market value” thing is massively subjective and we have in fact benefitted from that subjectivity in the past.

In 2012/13 we saw a significant reduction in rent due to the club having a cash flow crisis due to an unexpected down turn in television revenue. This had absolutely nothing to do with the value of the land or the going market rate of the land. An yet the annual accounts clearly link the downturn in television revenue for the football club with a significant reduction in rent. From £449,000 to £296,000 (per below extract from accounts).

So we have precedent in our own arrangement for the landlord to take a view and re-adjust the rent one way or the other. Or “where there’s a will there’s a way” if you will. Unfortunately this is the only example in 25 years where I can see evidence of there being any will on behalf of the landlord to substantially help the tenant. But it shows it can be done and it speaks volumes that it has only been done once.




When the freehold came up for sale, Jeff Bonser purchased it for c £250k and popped it into his Self Invested Pension Plan (SIPP) administered by Suffolk Life. The land is probably worth c£10m now, given the guaranteed rent of £400k from a sitting tenant (the football club), which he incidentally owns. The investment income (annual rent ) has also contributed nicely to that SIPP to the tune of a further £8-10 million over the 25 years he has owned it. That doesn’t even take into account the investment returns on whatever the 400k per year has been re-invested in.

Thought it worth repeating again :smile:

Oh, one last thing. Did you know that he saved the club and is our number one fan?


But who was on the board of directors that mismanaged the club so badly it needed saving in the first place?

No one ever answers that question.


The catalyst was the demise of Terry Ramsden’s financial empire following the markets crash in 1987.

There has been some really good stuff published on here over the years by people that were closer to the goings on at the time.

Unfortunately it all happened pre-digital / internet era and as a result 99% + of the fan base were blissfully unaware of what was taking shape.


Indeed. Then you look at who appeared on the board of the club just after that and you could say it was a lifelong fan who had made a few bob and wanted to help the club out. With 30 years of hindsight you could congratulate him and reflect that the town still has a third tier professional football club.

Or you could say that a local businessman and his connections saw a big opportunity and with 30 years of hindisight that business opportunity has realised itself to the tune of a return measured in thousands of per cent.

Nobody knows what the sliding doors scenarios may have looked like.


Presumably the club also owns the ransom strip of land that the council wanted half a million for, you would assume that it is a decent chunk of land if the council wanted so much money for it at that time?


Sorry but folks always get their timescales mixed up. Bonser was owner/Chairman when the freehold came up for sale. Never forget that. The freehold was pocketed by Bonser, indirectly via his pension fund during a very successful season for Walsall FC when we won promotion and had some success in both cups, and also had some very saleable assets on the playing staff, several of whom left in the years following for much more than the freehold cost. In fact, given the prudence of Bonser’s budgeting I would say with 100 degrees of confidence that we made enough un-budgeted dosh out of the single event that was the January 1995 Leeds United (televised) and replayed cup-tie to have bought the freehold when it became available for purchase later in 1995 . Failing that Bonser could certainly have afforded to loan the club the money to buy the freehold, he’s loaned the club considerably more at other times. He CHOSE to pocket the freehold for his pension fund at this time, for no other reason than his own financial gain at the expense of Walsall FC.


Just so people are aware, I’m putting a response back to WFC this evening, I’ve started it off.


Just make sure you don’t go bothering Mr Gamble with this reply and send it to the relevant person, there’s a good boy👍