On Wednesday morning HMRC raided football clubs Newcastle United and West Ham United as part of an investigation into tax fraud. It is probably in connection with transfer fees.

Chelsea United also confirmed that it was asked to provide information and in France the authorities made several arrests.

HMRC said:

“HMRC has arrested several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected £5m income tax and national insurance fraud. One hundred and eighty HMRC officers have been deployed across the UK and France today. Investigators have searched a number of premises in the north-east and south-east of England and arrested the men and also seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones. The French authorities are assisting the UK investigation, have made arrests and several locations have been searched in France.”

it is thought that the investigation was bolstered by revelations made by England's manager Sam Allardyce, who was sacked in December 2016 after investigative journalists taped him explaining how to get around the player transfer rules. At that time it was also revealed in the press that the FA's disciplinary team was examining 42 people in relation to transfer fees and a further 70 for illegal betting and matching fixing.

Despite the fact that it is a multi-billion pound industry football clubs continue to owe HMRC sizeable debts in unpaid taxes and the Supreme Court is yet to rule as to whether Ranger's EBT saved the club any PAYE or NICs. According to HMRC, its investigations into football are bringing in some £80million a year. Player salaries topped £2billion in 2014/15 (according to Deloitte's Football Finance report).

In recent years HMRC has battled with players and clubs over the tax aspects of image rights and although it was anticipated that the chancellor would introduce measures to combat these in the last budget nothing happened. 

The FA banned third-party ownership of players' financial rights in 2008 with FIFA following suit in 2015. 

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