UK tax officials swoop on top football clubs

British media reported that West Ham United and Newcastle United were targets of the investigation.

The London club did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment, while a Newcastle spokeswoman said she expected to issue a statement “in due course”.

West Ham issued a statement to local media, saying the club was “co-operating fully with HMRC to assist their enquiries”.

The body responsible for United Kingdom’s tax collection 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.

“This criminal investigation sends a clear message that, whoever you are, if you commit tax fraud you can expect to face the consequences.”

Officials said French authorities were assisting the UK investigation, that they have made arrests and that several locations have been searched in France.