Sportech tax battle over spot the ball may continue

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GAMING company Sportech’s £80 million battle with the taxman over a spot the ball competition looks set to drag into extra time after HM Revenue and Customs said it will appeal against a court defeat.

The Liverpool-based company, which has its roots as an Edinburgh technology firm, won a court battle against HMRC in March after arguing it was incorrectly charged VAT on its competition between 1979 and 1996.

Yesterday, the firm said HMRC plans to appeal against the ruling and will be told within four weeks whether the challenge can go ahead.

The dispute centres on whether Spot the Ball – where players win a prize if they correctly identify where a football is in a photo – is a game of skill or chance.

Sportech is claiming back the £40m of VAT it paid on the game for 17 years, which doubles to more than £80m once interest is included.