Is bridge a sport? Havering clubs disappointed with government ruling

10:57 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


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.


Latest Sport Stories

Dagenham manager Wayne Burnett and Jamie Cureton (pic: David Simpson/TGSPHOTO)

Dagenham & Redbridge striker aims to hush Huish Park

Marshalls Park's year seven boys progressed in the Essex Cup

Essex Cup: Palmer Catholic Academy 2 Marshalls Park 5

Local clubs are battling it out in the FA Youth Cup (pic: Andrew Matthews/PA)

Youngsters progress to third qualifying round

London Raiders forward Seb Downing celebrates his first goal for the club (pic: John Scott)

Downing delighted with life in London

Hornchurch manager Jim McFarlane (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Bridge Avenue boss dreaming of reaching the first round of the FA Cup

Romford manager Paul Martin (left) and Alex Goldstone (pic: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO)

Boro come up against Jack Barry and Thamesmead this weekend

Romford & Gidea Park's Steve Barfoot (centre) in action last season, but he isn't expected to take to the field this year (pic: DNR Glover).

Poor first half display cost Park more points against Norwich

Hornchurch celebrate their second goal against Barkingside (pic: George Phillipou/TGS Photo)

Bridge Avenue boss pleased with form and about bringing midfielder Connor Witherspoon to club

Most read sport

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

You could be splashing the cash at Topshop!

Just imagine what you could do with £1,000 to spend at Topshop.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder