MIDDLESBROUGH Football Club has been cleared of failing to pay some of its staff the minimum wage.

The Championship club appealed against an Employment Tribunal ruling that the club’s decision to deduct the cost of workers’ season tickets directly from their wage packet resulted in them receiving less than stipulated minimum.

However, the club has successfully had the ruling overturned after proving the staff had requested the deduction to help spread the payments for the season tickets.

Boro chairman Steve Gibson said: “I am delighted that our appeal has been successful. We have maintained for two years that the position that HMRC had adopted was unreasonable and that it was not in the public interest to pursue this matter against the Club.

"We reiterated this within the last month and invited them to withdraw the Notice of Underpayment in respect of the Season Cards but they refused. This left us with no alternative to bring the matter to Tribunal.

"In my eyes this is a huge waste of public money. Not only is it the time and effort HMRC have spent on the investigation but also their legal costs and the court time which have been incurred.

"I understand that in addition to one witness HMRC had a barrister, lawyer and three other observers at court. This demonstrates the waste and inefficiency within the civil service. All of which we as tax payers are funding. In the addition there has been considerable expense incurred by the Club in challenging the HMRC's claims.

"I believe this is symptomatic of a bureaucratic civil service who are out of touch with the real world.

"Ultimately it is the tax payers who are paying for this shambles and our politicians need to take notice and demand a more professional approach in the future.

"I am delighted that the tribunal vindicated our decision to fight this case."

HMRC spokesperson defended its decision to persue the case.

He said: “HMRC is unapologetic in its enforcement of national minimum wage for workers, and will ensure that we do everything we can to get people the money that they are legally due. NMW legislation is protective legislation – no worker can agree to receive less than the relevant NMW rate.

"The legislation does not draw a distinction between breaches arising from uncertainty or mistake and deliberate underpayment which means HMRC has no discretion to make these distinctions either. Employers are either compliant and pay their workers correctly, or they do not.”