After the shock raids on West Ham United and Newcastle United by HMRC last week, it was a given that lots of rumors and innuendo would pop up as a result of the raids. With the raids also taking place in France and involving the French club Olympique de Marseille, Dimitri Payet’s name was bound to pop up in relation to the raids, as his transfer back to France still stings in the minds and hearts of the Hammer faithful.
BREAKING: Newcastle's St James' Park and West Ham's London Stadium have been raided as part of a police investigation #SSNHQ— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) April 26, 2017
There's nothing more certain the Newcastle vs West Ham game being christened "el taxico" next year— Adam Stoker (@ADStoker) April 26, 2017
The Mail on Sunday reported in it’s latest edition that the £1 million “loyalty” bonus that was paid to Dimitri Payet in September of 2016 was for at least partly responsible for the raid that occurred at the London Stadium. It went on to detail a number of other transactions that had been “flagged” by HMRC and also brought up the issue of “image rights” payments that appear to be set up for avoid taxation.
West Ham United’s Official Club website, whufc.com, posted a response to the Mail on Sunday story Sunday to refute the implications of the report. While the article went to great lengths to mention that West Ham had done nothing wrong, the article did seem to imply that the loyal bonus that was paid to Payet had something to do with image right payments. The club’s statement made clear that no image rights payments had been made by the club to anyone at any time.
The club’s statement in full:
In response to an article in today’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, West Ham United would like to clarify the following:
1. Dimitri Payet had a £1m annual loyalty payment, which was detailed in his contract submitted to the Premier League and The FA. Payment was made via his normal monthly pay and subject to 45 per cent income tax and National Insurance, which was deducted at source and was paid to his UK bank account along with his normal monthly wages. There is nothing to probe about this payment.
2. In contrast to many Premier League clubs, not a single West Ham United player has any part of his salary paid as image rights.
With the statement from the club coming out, it appears that the Mail on Sunday report hinting at some sort of dirty business with the Payet bonus was just an attempt to grab more headlines. The amount of “new” information has dried up after a flurry of arrests and documents being seized, so reports are starting to come out with lots of reckless speculation. In this case, it appears connecting the “dots” of an unpopular ex-player and his “loyalty” bonus is just wishful thinking. If only the HMRC raid could all be blamed on Payet and Marseille, it would be wonderful. Anyway, even if there is some dodgy dealing going on, and with the Mail On Sunday report also detailing the “free” transfer of Demba Ba to Newcastle, who has been linked to the raid, it looks like West Ham’s loyalty bonus, no matter how ironic, is not part of the greater inquiry.