John Barnes failed to pay £190,000 in tax

John Barnes during a press conference at AXA Melwood Training Centre on March 22, 2024
John Barnes has signed a disqualification undertaking banning him from being a company director for the next three-and-a-half years - Liverpool FC/Andrew Powell

John Barnes, the former England and Liverpool midfielder, has been banned as a director after his company failed to pay tens of thousands of pounds in tax.

Investigations by the Insolvency Service revealed that, between 2018 and 2020, John Barnes Media Limited failed to pay more than £190,000 in corporation tax and VAT.

Barnes, who avoided being made bankrupt last year after settling a personal tax bill of more than £200,000, has signed a disqualification undertaking banning him from being a company director for the next three-and-a-half years.

Mike Smith, Chief Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said: “Individuals and businesses not paying the tax they should deprives the Government of the funding it needs to provide vital public services and investment in areas such as schools, hospitals and roads.

“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.

“This disqualification should serve as a deterrent to other directors that 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 playing career spanning almost two decades, formed John Barnes Media Limited in September 2012.

The company, of which he was the sole director, described itself as offering media representation services. Between November 2018 and October 2020, its turnover was £441,798.

The Insolvency Service said nothing was paid to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in tax during that period, despite the company filing returns showing what the VAT payments should have been.

An investigation found John Barnes Media failed to pay £78,839 in corporation tax between August 2018 and January 2020, when the company ceased trading, and also failed to pay £115,272 in VAT between February 2019 and 2020.

Insolvency Service investigations into Barnes’s conduct as a director began in September 2023 after his company went into liquidation and while he was also facing a bankruptcy petition over a £238,000 tax bill.

Barrister Nathan Webb, who represented the ex-footballer at a hearing that same month into Barnes’s personal tax affairs, told the judge that his client “just” needed time to pay.

He said Barnes was employed by Liverpool Football Club “on a salary of £200,000” and was “very well and able to pay”.

Two months later, the bankruptcy petition was dismissed after HMRC confirmed the debt had been paid and a settlement reached.

Recent years have seen Barnes become a leading – and sometimes controversial – commentator on racism in football and wider society.

He has been approached for comment.