Yesterday, here in the UK, various media outlets reported, in largely negative terms, about the pay of bet365’s founder, Denise Coates.

She was paid 265 million pounds according to the latest set of accounts filed at Companies House.

A couple of example stories:
BBC
The Guardian

Some relevant snippets:

Her pay is more than 9,500 times the average UK salary, 1,700 times that collected by the prime minister and more than double that paid to the entire Stoke City football team…
The Guardian

Vince Gable, leader of the Liberal Democrats was quoted as saying,

In any circumstance it is hard to justify, but more so given the money comes from people struggling with compulsive gambling
Vince Gable

Elsewhere:

Why does someone who is already a billionaire need to take such an obscene amount of money out of their company? It is difficult to find a reason beyond pure greed
Luke Hildyard, a director of the High Pay Centre

The Guardian’s parting shot:

bet365 made a £75m donation to the Denise Coates Foundation, which mostly funds medical and education charities. The charity has not made any donations to gambling or addiction charities.

The Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth was quoted in the Daily Mail saying:

From gambling to alcohol to drug misuse we face an addiction crisis. Services are slashed, mental health services neglected. Lives are ruins while the CEO of a betting company is paid 22 times more than the whole industry ‘donates’ to treatment. Disgusting.

For the really curious, thanks to Companies House you can get all the financial information these stories are based upon by reading the latest bet365 accounts.

The other side of the story

So, that covers the negative side of things. I want to offer some alternate facts and thoughts.

Disclosure: I have been working for bet365 since 2012. Although working most days no more than 50 metres from Denise Coates, I’ve never exchanged so much as pleasantries with her. I have no idea what she is like personally. I offer that information merely to highlight that what follows is entirely my own opinion.

End of disclosure.

Reading the various stories in the last 24 hours I was struck by the complete lack of balance. Most noticeably the BBC which, as a public service, at least has a remit to impartiality.

I didn’t see anything heralding the fact that this pay was awarded to a woman, which given the inequality in this respect I found pretty surprising. In addition, nothing mentioning the tax she pays. Little to nothing about her work ethic. Jack on how the level of success was achieved and nada about the benefits that creating the company has done for the locality.

The UKs single biggest tax payer

Some facts. Not only is Denise Coates the highest paid Director in the UK. By extension, that also makes her the UK’s highest single taxpayer. At 45% tax rate here in the UK, that means she gifted the Treasury at least £119,000,000 in tax last year.

Let’s attempt to weigh up what that number means. Think about that like this. The most expensive surgery that the NHS has to perform is brain surgery for children. This costs around £40,000 per surgery. Denise Coates has, single-handedly, with the tax she has paid, effectively picked up the tab for 2975 of those surgeries! Or think of it as over 14,000 knee replacements if you would rather.

She single handedly paid over 7 times the amount of tax that Facebook paid (it paid just 15.8 million in tax last year), Or 24 times more than Amazon (just £4.5 million).

Apple, the worlds most profitable company, paid comparatively little more tax than Denise Coates alone: £136,000,000 million in tax, and only then after an investigation by the HMRC.

The hardest worker

I’ve not worked at bet365 since its inception but I can tell you that based upon multiple independent anecdotal reports, Denise and her family getting bet365 to where it was now was no mean feat.

As successful as it now is, you would be forgiven for thinking there would be little need for her to be in the office; just phone in from [insert luxury retreat of your choice] occasionally.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Happen to be in the office on a Saturday? Guess who else is? Working late to finish something off? Guess who else is?

Day in.

Day out.

Nothing about this in the media. No admiration of the work ethic and dedication required to run a company of this scale.

Bottom line. 99.99999% of people would not put in the kind of effort needed to create and sustain something of this magnitude. Yet 99.999999% of people think they deserve the spoils it generates all the same.

Benefits to the locality

bet365 is Stoke On Trent’s largest employer. About 4000 employees and counting.

I have lived in and around Stoke-On-Trent my whole life. It doesn’t have a great reputation. It’s largely fair criticism.

However, thanks to the pull of bet365, for the technically minded, I have the pleasure of a number of acquaintances that just wouldn’t live in and around the area were it not for bet365. There are employees from every one of the many countries bet365 operates in. They enrich the area. They base their lives here. They send their children to school here. They pay their taxes and spend their income in and around here.

It didn’t have to be this way. The directors could have moved. Could have sold up. Could have avoided paying tax. They did none of those things. They stayed, pay their taxes and the area is better for it. Stoke On Trent now has top talent in the area. Talent that would otherwise have lived and worked in London or Birmingham and the like.

Summary

It’s tough to try and sell the idea that somebody deserves 265 million pounds for a years work. However, I certainly don’t begrudge it anyone either. Especially when that person is generating 75 million pounds for charity in the same year. What have I done in that regard? What about you? If that money is earned fairly within the realms of the law, who am I or anyone else to cast aspersions?

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.
Voltaire