BRIGHTON and Hove Albion claim they have been “named and shamed” by Government officials for being “over-generous” with expenses to work experience staff.

The club were named among 198 companies in what the HMRC is calling their biggest list ever of firms not paying minimum wage.

Albion has been accused of owing more than £2,800 to one worker but club officials said they were “very disappointed to be named” having already made representations to Government officials.

The Seagulls were named alongside another Football league side, Blackpool, in the list of nearly 200 firms nationwide.

Other Sussex companies listed by HMRC are top Brighton restaurant Le Nantais Bistro which is named as owing £362.44 to one worker and St Leonards-based P W W Ice Cream Supplies which owes £106.72 to one worker.

Responding this morning, the club said it had been “over generous” in paying the expenses of an individual on a work experience placement at the club two years ago.

The club said the minor administrative error was corrected by the club as soon as possible and they sought external legal advice in which they were instructed they had not breached employment regulations.

A club spokesman said because of the HMRC's decision, which the club are unable to appeal, Albion had suspended its work experience programme and been forced to close the door to “many graduates seeking such opportunities”.

He added: "As a business we feel our reputation as a responsible employer has been very unfairly tarnished.

“We are one of the few clubs who pays its staff the over and above the national living wage.

"Unfortunately, in light of this, we are now more risk averse in terms of offering work experience opportunities.

“This means we are unable to give as many valuable on-the-job work experience opportunities to those looking to further their career or break into this highly competitive industry.

"It is a shame because a number of people who've spent time with us, on work experience placements, have gone on to win successful job roles across the football and sports industry, at the highest level - here in the Premier League and EFL and others abroad."

A P W W Ice Cream spokeswoman said their alleged under payment was a “genuine mistake” when the company was switching between bookkeepers and that all money owed had been paid to staff.

She added: “I can’t say anything or do anything.

“The Government doesn’t help employers, it’s all about the employees.”

Business Minister Margot James said: “This Government is determined to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.

“That means making sure everyone gets paid the wages they are owed – including our new, higher, National Living Wage.

"It is not acceptable that some employers fail to pay at least the minimum wage their workers are entitled to.

“So we’ll continue to crack down on those who ignore the law, including by naming and shaming them.”