No tax worries, so Ronaldo wants England return

MADRID • Cristiano Ronaldo has told a Spanish court he "would like to return to England" due to his tax troubles in Spain, Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reported yesterday.

The Real Madrid forward was called to testify in court on Monday over accusations he evaded €14.7 million (S$23.5 million) in tax on his image rights via a complicated web of shell companies based in the British Virgin Islands and Ireland.

The 32-year-old has insisted he did not create a "special structure" to manage his image rights when he moved to Real in 2009, but simply maintained the one set up in 2004 while he was at Manchester United.

That structure had been recommended to him via United's specialist sports lawyer Chris Farnell.

"Chris told me it was what all the footballers did and I didn't want to be an exception," Ronaldo said in court. "On the field I always want to be an exception, but off it I want to be like everyone else."

Ronaldo's image rights are currently owned by Singaporean billionaire Peter Lim's Hong Kong-based company Mint Media in a six-year deal announced in June.

If Ronaldo is found guilty he faces a fine of at least €28 million and potentially a 31/2-year jail term.

He believes he is being targeted due to his fame by stating to the judge that he was in court only because "I am Cristiano Ronaldo".

Another excerpt released by Cadena Ser included the Portuguese reportedly saying: "I never had a problem in England… that's why I would like to go back to England."

A return to Old Trafford would be his most likely destination, but United manager Jose Mourinho had insisted last month that a deal for Ronaldo was "impossible".

Ronaldo will return to training with Real for the first time since lifting the European Cup in June.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane had given him an extended break due to his participation in the Confederations Cup exertions with Portugal and his court appearance.

Real and United are set to face each other in the Uefa Super Cup on Tuesday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 06, 2017, with the headline 'No tax worries, so Ronaldo wants England return'. Print Edition | Subscribe