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South: Accountants backing INEOS TEAM UK's quest for glory

By Jo Whittle
17 February 2021

As INEOS TEAM UK embarks on the latest stage of its quest to become the first British crew to win the America’s Cup, among those cheering them on are accountants PKF Francis Clark.


Martin Aldridge, partner and head of marine at PKF Francis Clark, with Sir Ben Ainslie, team principal and skipper of INEOS TEAM UK

Having also worked with Sir Ben Ainslie’s sailing team in its previous guises, the firm’s role as official supplier of accountancy services to INEOS TEAM UK encompasses a wide range of specialisms, from audit and tax compliance to payroll, VAT, R&D tax credits, international and private client work.

Should Ainslie and his team succeed in lifting the historic trophy, no one will be more delighted than Martin Aldridge, who has helped the record-breaking Olympian to manage his finances throughout his distinguished sailing career.

Aldridge, a former windsurfing world champion, first got to know Ainslie, then a teenage sailing prodigy, through their shared passion for competing on the water. Now nearly 30 years later, he is hoping to see him beat the holders, Emirates Team New Zealand, to win the America’s Cup, which gets underway in Auckland on Saturday, March 6.

INEOS-TEAM-UKBut to reach the final INEOS TEAM UK first need to see off the Italian crew Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli in the Prada Cup final, a best-of-13 series of races that started on Saturday, February 13.

“We get a thrill from seeing all our clients achieve their ambitions, in business or sport,” said Aldridge, a partner at the Poole office of PKF Francis Clark. “In the case of INEOS TEAM UK, we’re incredibly excited that they are in with a good chance of making sporting history.

“They have worked incredibly hard in pursuit of marginal gains to get to this stage, and it would be amazing to see Sir Ben and his team bring the America’s Cup home. It’s the pinnacle of sailing. We’ll be watching their progress closely and cheering them on from back at home.”

The team’s AC75-class boat, Britannia, is an impressive feat of engineering, developed over the past three years in a relentless quest for speed.

Lisa_WhitbreadR&D tax specialist Lisa Whitbread said: “I’ve visited the team in Portsmouth several times over the past few years and am always amazed by the engineering expertise and innovation that has gone into developing the boat they are now racing. It’s like designing a Formula One car.

“My role is to help identify what parts of this work qualify for R&D tax credits, and we have successfully submitted some valuable R&D claims which have assisted with the financing of the British campaign. Financially, this has made a huge difference to the team’s ability to compete over the years.

“It’s really exciting to be part of this effort and we’ll be ecstatic if INEOS TEAM UK can win the America’s Cup.”

With the team spending much of the past year in Italy and New Zealand for training camps and races, there are also international tax issues to navigate.

“We’ve been heavily involved in assisting and advising on the tax implications of the team being out in New Zealand and dealing with the tax authorities there, as we did when they set up a training base in Italy,” said Aldridge. “Our membership of the PKF international network means we can draw on the support of local colleagues around the world when needed.”

Matt Robinson, CFO of INEOS TEAM UK, said: “PKF Francis Clark has provided financial support services across a range of areas to the INEOS TEAM UK race team since their inception. For an impatient CFO, working in a fast-paced sports team, speed is of the essence and the team is almost always on the end of the line and can answer most things straight off the bat. If they cannot answer a question, they always have the resources in the team to find out the answer and give a speedy response and will work through issues with you to provide guidance if the answer is not straightforward.”