Hammers owners freeze image rights

BY foxsports • March 18, 2010

West Ham's owners have risked angering their relegation-threatened squad after placing a hold on image-right payments.

Hammers co-owner David Sullivan has announced the strategy as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs carries out an investigation into tax due on contracts.

Image rights have come under increased scrutiny across the Premier League as HMRC reportedly seeks to recover an estimated £60million.

Kieron Dyer, Matthew Upson, Robert Green and Scott Parker are understood to be among the players who have had their payments frozen, but Sullivan insists there is no reason to panic.

He said in The Guardian: "Because the Inland Revenue are saying that tax has to be deducted at source, until the people receiving the image rights have clarified things with the Inland Revenue, we are freezing payments on the basis that there has been a backlog of deductions that have not been made.

"Every penny they are entitled to will be paid in due course, but until it is agreed with the Inland Revenue we can't release the money.

"Until we build up the deficit for the previous payments, the payments will be held in escrow pending a settlement with the Inland Revenue. If anyone wants to sort out their particular case with the Inland Revenue, we'll abide by whatever they say.

"But what we can't have is a situation where a guy goes back to France and then in two years' time they [HMRC] say to us, 'You've given him £1m in image rights, we want 40 per cent of that.'"

He added: "The previous board have been irresponsible in the way they have paid it and we are immediately reversing things in a fair and reasonable way.

"We are not doing anything tricky. We are just trying to limit our exposure for any punitive back-tax."

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