John Barnes banned from being company director over unpaid taxes

<span>John Barnes, photographed in 2019, formed John Barnes Media in September 2012. </span><span>Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian</span>
John Barnes, photographed in 2019, formed John Barnes Media in September 2012. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian

The former England and Liverpool footballer John Barnes has been banned as a director after his company failed to pay tens of thousands of pounds in tax, following an investigation by the HM Revenue’s Insolvency Service.

The investigation revealed that between 2018 and 2020, John Barnes Media – which offered media representation services – failed to pay more than £190,000 in corporation tax and VAT. His ban, which started on Wednesday, prevents him from being involved in the promotion, formation or management of a company, without the permission of the court.

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Barnes, whose business was listed as having a Surrey address, has signed a disqualification undertaking that bans him from being a company director for the next three and a half years.

Mike Smith, the chief investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “John Barnes had a legal duty to ensure his company paid the correct amount of corporation tax and VAT. Instead, it paid no tax whatsoever between November 2018 and October 2020, despite receiving earnings of well over £400,000. If you do not pay your taxes while directing money elsewhere, you are at risk of being banned.”

Barnes, who earned 79 England caps during a professional playing career spanning almost two decades, formed John Barnes Media in September 2012. He was the sole director, and the company described itself as offering media representation services.

Between November 2018 and October 2020, John Barnes Media’s turnover was £441,798. Nothing was paid to HM Revenue and Customs in tax during that period, despite the company filing returns showing what the VAT payments should have been.

The Insolvency Service’s investigation showed that John Barnes Media failed to pay £78,839 in corporation tax between August 2018 and January 2020, when the company ceased trading. The company also failed to pay £115,272 in VAT between February 2019 and 2020. Insolvency Service investigations into Barnes’ conduct as a director began in September 2023.