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HMRC internal manual

VAT Sport Manual

Further information on the scope of the exemption: Definition of competition

A competition is defined as a structured and organised contest, tournament or race where prizes or titles of some kind are awarded. This definition was supported by the decision of the VAT Tribunal in the appeal by Wimborne Rugby Football Club (LON/89/755Y).

The appeal by Wimborne Rugby Football Club (Lon 89/755Y) was against the decision that match fees, which players must pay to the club each time they play in a game of rugby for the club, were standard-rated.

Competitions and some other matches were played under the sponsorship of the Courage League, whilst others were organised between club secretaries as non-League friendlies. The appellant contended that all of its matches were played in a competitive manner, therefore all the fees were exempt as payments for the grant of a right to enter a competition in sport or physical recreation under Group 10 of Schedule 9 to the VAT Act 1983.

In dismissing the appeal, the Tribunal found that

  • the friendly matches arranged by the appellant were not competitions as defined in VAT Leaflet 701/34/89: Competitions in Sport and Physical Recreation, now Public Notice 701/45: Sport
  • no payments were made by the appellant to Courage for any right to enter a competition; and,
  • whilst matches were played in a competitive manner, the match fees were not grants by the club.