Newcastle United HMRC investigation - What we know about the raids, arrests and potential penalties, plus the French club implicated in wrongdoing revealed

St James's Park
St James's Park
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Less than 48 hours after Newcastle's promotion party, an unexpected darkness has once again returned to Tyneside.

This morning United were revealed to be involved in a £5million fraud investigation by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

Just two days ago United celebrated promotion back to the Premier League with a win over Preston

Just two days ago United celebrated promotion back to the Premier League with a win over Preston

So what happened? What are the implications for those involved, including the club itself?

Here's what we know...

So what is the story so far?

Several men said to be "working in football" have been arrested in a massive fraud operation, by the HMRC.

Lee Charnley with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

Lee Charnley with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley

Raids took place on a number of locations both in the UK and in France overnight. Raids in England were said to have taken place in the South East and North East.

Do we know who has been arrested?

While the HMRC refused to confirm the identity of those arrested, Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley was one of several men held during raids by tax authorities.

The Magpies chief is at the centre of a 'significant' investigation into football with which involved some 180 HMRC officers.

Documents seized by police as part of the arrests and raids include computers, mobile phones and business and financial records.

Are Newcastle the only club involved?

No. As well as St James's Park and the Magpies training ground at Darsley Park reportedly being raided, West Ham United's Olympic Stadium has also been under the microscope of tax officials as well as their Rush Green training facility.

As well as the Hammers coming into the investigation it has been reported that Chelsea have been as asked to provide information in relation to an ongoing investigation.

Although, they are not believed to be implicated in any wrongdoing.

A Chelsea spokesman said: "In connection with its wider investigation, HMRC has requested certain information which the club will provide."

Do we know where the raids were in France?

French radio station RTL have reported that Marseille are the team implicated on the continent.

Newcastle have had a number of dealings with the French giants in recent years, including the signing on high-profile flop Florian Thauvin, as well as the sale of Remy Cabella last summer.

There has been no suggestion either deal is part of the investigation.

It is being reported over the Channel that some senior directors have been charged. Around 800 bank accounts and 110 companies are said to be under examination.

So what actually happened late last night?

An HMRC statement, released this morning, read: "HMRC has arrested several men working within the professional football industry for a suspected Income Tax and National Insurance fraud.

"180 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.

"This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences. As this is an ongoing investigation HMRC is unable to provide any further detail at this time."

Have Newcastle as a club made comment on this?

It took them until after 6pm but finally one arrived. Brief and to the point.

It said: “Newcastle United can confirm that a member of its staff has this morning been assisting HMRC with their inquiries.

“The Club will be making no further comment at this time.”

West Ham have also commented on the investigation.

Earlier today they released the following: "The club is cooperating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries. No further comment will be made at this time."

So, what are the implications of this?

At this stage it really is too early to tell.

Until the full severity of the investigation is revealed it is impossible to predict what penalty, if any, could be imposed on individuals or clubs accused of wrongdoing.

Suggestions have ranged from relegation, points deductions and transfer bans, to fines and jail terms.

Others have claimed that because this investigation is under the HMRC remit, football's governing bodies have no cause to act, meaning no football sanctions can take place.

I repeat, at this stage it's impossible to know.

One thing that can be said with a degree of certainty is that things will not come to a conclusion overnight. This could be an investigation that takes a long time to develop.