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Is bridge a sport? Havering clubs disappointed with government ruling

PUBLISHED: 10:57 05 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:33 05 March 2014

Paul Graham with member Joan Sykes playing bridge. Picture: Paul and Linda Graham

Paul Graham with member Joan Sykes playing bridge. Picture: Paul and Linda Graham

Archant

Havering’s bridge clubs have been left disappointed after the government rejected an application to recognise the game as a sport.

The English Bridge Union (EBU) made the application to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) as it would mean VAT would not be payable on entry fees, as with other sports.

However the first tier of the tribunal tax chamber rejected their petition last week on the basis that the card game did not require a significant amount of “physical activity”.

Paul Graham, who co-runs Upminster Bridge Club and regularly competes at the larger, EBU-affiliated Collier Row Club, said: “Bridge is a sport of the mind. HMRC’s decision is a real shame, the game is a sport and a pastime much like darts and others. As well as that it has a range of health and social benefits for our members.”

The EBU pointed out that gliding, billiards, darts and croquet were all considered sports by HMRC despite “physical skill or activity playing second fiddle to mental skill”.

Bridge is recognised as a sport by the International Olympic Committee as well as the Charity Commission and in a number of European countries.

Peter Stockton, communications manager for the EBU, feels the VAT change would have had huge benefits for players.

He said: “If the ruling had gone the other way, we would have been able to refund a fair amount of competition entry fees which would really help towards the development of the game in our clubs up and down the country.

“It would also mean a 20 per cent reduction in the cost of taking part which would have made a big difference to players.”

The EBU are taking legal advice on whether or not to appeal the decision.”

Do you think bridge should be considered a sport? Add your vote via our poll, online.

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