Former tennis player turned Sky Sports presenter, Barry Cowan, has lost his IR35 case after his representatives failed to submit their application to appeal within the 30-day deadline.

Cowan is one of a number of Sky Sports presenters who have been targeted by HMRC regarding their IR35 compliance in recent years, while Gary Lineker recently won his £4.9m tax battle over IR35 status. 

The hearing was to consider Cowan’s application to appeal HMRC’s view that the freelance presenter worked in a manner akin to employment and therefore belonged inside IR35 for contracts held from 2014 to 2019. 

However, Cowan’s representatives missed HMRC’s deadline to submit an application to appeal, with the court notes stating “serious and significant delay – no good reason”.

Qdos CEO, Seb Maley, commented:

“You have to feel for Barry Cowan. Through no fault of his own, he won’t have the chance to appeal. If recent IR35 cases involving Sky Sports presenters are anything to go by, this huge error could have cost him a fortune. 

“Filing an application to appeal is simple stuff – it should be bread and butter for Cowan’s representatives. What’s really worrying is that it’s not the first time we’ve seen this happen. Late last year it emerged that another Sky Sports presenter, Michael Lynagh, had his request to appeal denied because his accountant missed the deadline. 

“It goes without saying that in the event of an IR35 investigation, you need support you can count on. IR35 cases can carry millions in tax liability and HMRC is noticeably ramping up its compliance activity in this area.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.