Thursday, April 27

Taxing times for the Irons

Still trying to make some sense of the HMRC raid at West Ham yesterday. The Sun claims the investigation was started after the transfer of Demba Ba from West Ham to Newcastle. While the Times prints a list of players that West Ham and Newcastle have signed from France, including West Ham's Dimitri Payet, Morgan Amalfitano, Modibo Maiga and Alou Diarra, though the investigation may not concern these deals. 

In the Guardian David Conn points out that the 2007 HMRC football raids didn't produce much apart from the famous Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric trial, which saw both men acquitted. Though that puts more pressure on the HMRC to get a result this time. The Guardian also points out that in the case of serious financial irregularities the authorities have deducted points from Swindon and Boston United. 

Though if, as seems likely, the £5 million sum pursued by the HMRC involves image rights, this appears to be a common practice in football so would West Ham and Newcastle be singled out for extra punishment? At the speed the HMRC operate any sanctions are likely to be some years down the line.

What is clear though is that if the HMRC can stamp out all clubs paying up to 15 per cent of a player's wages as "image rights" (which are often registered in tax havens) that would be no bad thing. Meanwhile there might soon be a new chant of, "you'e getting taxed in the morning!"

And now the French Prosecutor's office states: "The British authorities suspect secret payments may have been made to benefit certain players, their agents or third parties, allowing them to avoid paying tax on the income, or making social security payments." Hmm. We're going to be hearing a lot more about this. 

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