By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
June 22, 2012
When George Harrison penned “Taxman” for the Beatles in 1966, he likely never imagined that the song would one day apply to elite global athletes. These days, thanks to UK tax laws that take a percentage of overseas competitors’ global endorsements as well as prize money earned in the Commonwealth, such superstars as sprinter Usain Bolt and tennis’ Rafael Nadal are eschewing British events in favor of more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.
In Bolts’ case, the decision meant scaling down British appearances. In Nadal’s, it meant the reigning French Open champion is warming up for Wimbledon in Germany instead of his longtime transition to grass, the Aegon Championship at London’s Queen’s Club.
Nadal is currently holding grass court in the German town of Halle at the Gerry Weber Open, which is reportedly paying him over $1.16 million to appear there. Last October, Nadal claimed that he would actually lose money should he continue to play at Queen’s, causing the Aegon tournament director to admit that it was becoming more difficult to attract tennis’ top stars.
Thankfully for the tournament, the UK government amended the punitive tax rules in March, and homegrown superstar Andy Murray just signed a five year guaranteed deal to play at Queen’s. Looks like the grass might not be greener in Germany after all.