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Top players find Premier League too 'taxing'

Top players could follow Cristiano Ronaldo away from England due to the increase in top-rate income tax, a leading football finance expert has warned. Joe McLean, a partner with Grant Thornton, believes high-earning stars will inevitably be drawn to countries like Spain due to the prospect of a 50% income tax rate coming into force in the UK next April.

By contrast, the Spanish government afford tax breaks to the wealthy in order to attract top stars to their shores.

"By going to Spain, Ronaldo will be paying several million pounds a year less in tax," McLean said.

"His advisors will undoubtedly have been saying to him that, although Manchester United and Real Madrid are both superstar clubs, the fact is in the UK he will pay £5million in tax on £10million, whereas in Spain it will be £2.5million.

"Over a four-year contract that's a huge amount of money, so it becomes of relevance.

"It might not be a major factor in deciding where players go, but it is certainly a factor."

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