Just days after Newcastle United secured automatic promotion to the Barclays Premier League, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) probe could scupper their potential return.

It has been confirmed this morning St James' Park had been raided by tax officials as part of an investigation into suspected income tax and national insurance fraud.

Officers searched club premises in connection with an international investigation into football clubs’ transfer dealings.

West Ham United's London Stadium was also raided with financial records being seized at both clubs.

HMRC confirmed on Wednesday officers have arrested “several men working within professional football industry for suspected income tax and national insurance fraud”.

A general view of the London Stadium, home of West Ham United Football Club.
A general view of the London Stadium, home of West Ham United Football Club.

A spokesperson said: “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.”

Although the investigation is at an early stage, a precedent has previously been set when clubs have been found guilty of financial irregularities with a points deduction being the outcome.

Ossie Ardiles celebrates promotion with Swindon Town over Sunderland AFC back in 1990.
Ossie Ardiles celebrates promotion with Swindon Town over Sunderland AFC back in 1990.

1989/90: Swindon Town denied a place in the First Division

After beating Sunderland in the Play-Off final to win promotion to the First Division, Swindon admitted 36 breaches of League rules.

Initially their punishment was relegation to the Third Division although on appeal this was reduced to relegation back to the Second Division with Sunderland promoted to the top flight in their place.

2000/01: Chesterfield deducted nine points for financial irregularities

The Spireites finances were called into question with the club being found guilty of two charges relating to the transfer of Luke Beckett from Chester to Chesterfield and the under-reporting of gate receipts.

2002/03: Boston United deducted four points for financial irregularities

Former Liverpool FC footballer Mike Marsh was embroiled in a financial scandal while at Boston United.
Former Liverpool FC footballer Mike Marsh was embroiled in a financial scandal while at Boston United.

While in the Conference the Lincolnshire club, their manager Steve Evans and former chairman Pat Malkinson faced a total of 16 FA charges relating to financial irregularities.

The club were found guilty of six of them, relating to irregularities in the contracts with players Paul Bastock, Ken Charlery, Jim Dick, Paul Wilson, Simon Weatherstone and Mike Marsh.

Contract details given to the FA bore no relation to what the club were paying the players - for example the contract with former Liverpool and West Ham player Marsh stated a salary of £100 a week when he actually received £1000 a week.

2007/08: Leeds United deducted 15 points for breach of financial rules

Leeds United's Richard Cresswell looks dejected after relegation from the Championship.
Leeds United's Richard Cresswell looks dejected after relegation from the Championship.

After suffering a 10 point deduction the previous season for entering administration, Leeds United started the 2007/08 season with a 15 point penalty for leaving administration without a Company Voluntary Agreement.

A CVA - an agreement an insolvent company has with its creditors about what will be repaid and when - was a Football League requirement for a club exiting insolvency and without it Leeds became the first club to suffer the penalty of a 15 point deduction.

Newcastle United currently sit in second place in the table, seven points clear of third-place Huddersfield Town.

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