Just after Newcastle United won promotion to the Premier League back in April, fans were stunned to hear that the stadium and training ground had been raided by tax officials.

The HMRC investigation in the UK and on the continent saw NUFC Managing Director Lee Charnley, one of a number of European football officials to be arrested before being later released.

The HMRC investigation centred on football agents and the payments made in transfer dealings between English and French clubs – West Ham were another club to be raided.

Various business and financial records were seized, as well as computers and mobile phones belonging to the club.

In July, Mike Ashley engaged his legal people to argue that no reasonable grounds existed for believing it had engaged in suspected tax fraud and so the HMRC had no right to seize and examine any documents.

This led to a stalemate with HMRC officers not allowed to examine the seized documents until/unless the High Court then gave them the go ahead at a future hearing.

This (Wednesday) morning has seen the High Court come to a decision and it being made public, with two judges rejecting the challenge by Newcastle United over the legality of the search and seize orders obtained by the HMRC from a judge at Leeds Crown Court.

Dismissing the football club’s application for judicial review, Lord Justice Beatson and Mrs Justice Whipple ruled that “The warrants were lawfully issued.”

So six months after the initial seizure it is a blow for Mike Ashley and the club, so now we wait to see what HMRC will come up with when examining the Newcastle United documents.



  • Alex

    Whatever the outcome, this will tell us how seriously Ashley is about selling the club.

    The HMRC investigation needs to be concluded as quickly as possible, with the support of Ashley / NUFC staff. Nobody is going to buy anything while it’s in limbo with HMRC digging around. If NUFC don’t proactively cooperate, it would indicate that Ashley is in no rush to sell.

    • Leazes Ender

      Six months on from seizure, they must have grounds for concern.

      • Rich Lawson

        You would presume they had found something interesting in the confiscated documents ?

        • Felixthecat

          due to the legal challenge they wouldn’t be allowed to search through the documents in case they needed to be returned. If the appeal was won then the documents would have been obtained illegally and therefore inadmissible.

          • Rich Lawson

            Thanks,that makes it a bit clearer.

  • Leicester Mag

    Penfold may be a worried man. If takeover threatened scapegoat already lined up. A pair of slazenger boxers may not be enough where this could end

    • HappyToons

      Imagine the Mike Ashley Sport’s Direct Gym…compulsory that you impress Mike by wearing the (cough) designer products…Timmy Highflyer, Kelvin Clown, etc.; the sort of gear topped off by a Regatta anorak that the Sunderland Seaburn Casuals strut around the Championship.

  • ghostrider

    When the warrant was issued and premises searched and looked over, there was nothing to answer for.
    So why has Ashley lost?
    It appears he had every right to challenge that and should have won his case.

    • Felixthecat

      If you read the appeal transcript and the reasoning behind HMRC seizing the good was because “it was not feasible to search/sift through documents on site”. Not that they found nothing, but that they didn’t have the time to actually look for specifics in the presumably several thousand documents they were picking up.

  • Hughie_Gallacher

    HMRC claiming that NUFC “systematically abused the tax system” and that payments to agents for five transfers between 2010-13 “were potentially the subject of criminal proceedings.”
    It doesn’t look good.

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    Well, there goes the transfer budget for January.

    • HarryHype59

      If true it is yet another example of financial mismanagement!

  • steve pearce

    Thankfully all matters concerning the fat stinking bag of southern pus will soon be history and he and his poisonous crew will be out of our club…..

    • 1957

      As Alex says below, we are stuck with the current regime until this investigation (and potential prosecutions) is over. Given my experiences with HMRC over the years, that could take many many months maybe over a year. If we (the club) end up being prosecuted it might not be as attractive a proposition as it seems now and we might be stuck with Ashley for a good bit longer.

    • Biggs Darklighter

      Any prosecutions should be against Ashley himself and not the club.