Saturday, April 29

Daily WHUFC News - 30th April 2017

Hammers extend unbeaten run

Having not recorded a goalless draw all season until last weekend's stalemate with Everton, West Ham United, who travelled to Stoke City, were held 0-0 for the second time in as many matches on Saturday. The Hammers' inability to find the back of the net was not for the want of trying against the Potters though, as the superb Jack Butland kept Slaven Bilic's side at bay on a number of occasions. And an open first half began with the visitors testing the Englishman, as Manuel Lanzini struck straight at the stopper from 20 yards just a minute into the contest. The hosts came roaring back, and almost took the lead when Saido Berahino – yet to score for the Potters – had time to shoot in the box, but a heroic block from Winston Reid denied him. And though the half was even throughout, it was the Hammers who created the better chances in front of goal from then on. Jose Fonte's header was forced over by ex-Hammer Glen Johnson and Jonathan Calleri skied from a good position inside the penalty area. Half an hour in, there was so nearly the dream opener for Andre Ayew, whose spectacular scissor-kick, which was ultimately kept out thanks to a smart Butland save, would have rivalled the Premier League's best strikes this campaign. At the other end, Fonte snuffed out a promising Stoke attack with a strong last-ditch challenge but again it was Slaven Bilic's side who came closest to taking the lead when, two minutes from the end of the first half, Calleri's rabona attempt was blocked from close range. Buoyed by their efforts in the opening period, West Ham began the second half at blistering pace as Cheikhou Kouyate smashed across goal and narrowly wide two minutes in.

Goalkeeper Adrian was properly tested for the first time eight minutes later, tipping Xherdan Shaqiri's powerful effort over the crossbar, before he was again made to work when Joe Allen's low drive came at him quickly. But it was a minute later the Spaniard really excelled, as he dived low to his right to keep out Berahino's goalbound effort. With 64 minutes on the clock, Stoke incredibly held the Hammers again who twice thought they had finally broken the hosts' stern defence.
Kouyate first slipped in Ayew, whose fierce drive was parried out by Butland, and then from Calleri's volley which cannoned into the ground, Lanzini's header was kicked away by the keeper. Soon after, Adrian, once again, was on hand to deny Arnautovic as Shaqiri sprayed a superb ball into the box, though the Swiss midfielder soon became villain at the bet365 Stadium as he went tumbling under little, if any, contact in the box. A number of promising counter attacks came and went in the final minutes, and substitute Peter Crouch wasted a good chance when he headed over, but the clash remained goalless and West Ham extended their unbeaten run to four matches.

Stoke City: Butland, Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Muniesa, Allen (Crouch 69), Whelan (Adam 79), Cameron, Shaqiri, Arnautovic, Berahino.
Subs not used: Grant, Bardsley, Pieters, Diouf, Ramadan.
Bookings: Muniesa 16

West Ham United: Adrian, Fernandes, Fonte, Reid, Collins, Masuaku (Cresswell 46), Nordtveit, Kouyate, Lanzini, Ayew (Noble 67), Calleri (Snodgrass 79).
Subs not used: Randolph, Feghouli, Byram, Fletcher.

Bilic - We created enough to win

Slaven Bilic said his team created enough chances to beat Stoke City on Saturday
West Ham United were held to a second consecutive goalless draw after last weekend's stalemate with Everton
The Hammers are now, though, four games unbeaten in the Premier League

West Ham United created enough chances during their goalless draw with Stoke City to win the game on Saturday, according to manager Slaven Bilic. The hosts had goalkeeper Jack Butland to thank on a number of occasions at the bet365 Stadium, with the stopper denying the likes of Andre Ayew and Manuel Lanzini spectacularly to keep his clean sheet. The draw meant the Hammers – who have kept three clean sheets in their last four matches – are now unbeaten in as many Premier League games and though they moved onto 39 points in the table, Bilic thought Saturday's reward could have been far greater. He said: "It was again a good defensive performance, and we were good on the ball, but we just couldn't convert the chances we created. We created enough ch ces to score a couple of goals. "Our chances came to our strikers but they didn't score. We created more than enough, I think more than them. I think we had four good chances and basically you have to score. "But it's a good point for us. We wanted to beat them, but we knew it would be a hard game before. It was a good team effort and we looked dangerous on the ball, but like against Everton, we couldn't score a goal. "It's our third clean sheet in the last four games, which is a good basis to start with. "We want to be safe, but still not club that is around us in the Premier League is safe. There are still nine points to play for and we want to do everything to collect as many as possible."

Butland sprung to his right to deny Andre Ayew superbly in the first half after the Ghanaian tried his luck with a scissor-kick, and the Englishmen made two impressive stops in the second half in quick succession from Ayew again and Argentine Lanzini's header. "Jack Butland's save from Ayew in the first half was unbelievable," Bilic reflected. "It was brilliant reflexes from such close range. "Then he made three saves in one action, so big credit goes to him for his performance. "[With the Calleri chance], I don't think he went for the spectacular. It sounds strange, but for him it was actually easier for him to score like that.
"But it is a decent point. We defended as a team and prevented them to just a couple of chances, with the big one coming from Arnautovic when Adrian made a good save. "We read all their situations and we created four or five chances and unfortunately we couldn't score."

Collins content with Stoke stalemate

James Collins content with point and clean sheet from goalless Premier League draw at Stoke City
West Ham United defender helped side keep third clean sheet in last four matches
Hammers are now on four-match top-flight unbeaten run with three games left to play

James Collins accepted a point and a third clean sheet in four matches after West Ham United drew 0-0 at Stoke in the Premier League. The Wales centre-back put in another resilient display at the bet365 Stadium, where the Hammers arguably created the better chances of the two sides over the course of the 90 minutes.
Goalkeepers Jack Butland and Adrian were both in unbeatable form, making a series of fine saves to ensure their respective sides left the Potteries with a share of the spoils and a point apiece. "I think we're happy with a point," Collins admitted. "I think if someone had offered us that before the game, we'd have taken it, as they've been playing really well at home and scoring lots of goals, so to come and get another clean sheet is good."
A switch to a five-man defence has led to a more organised and compact series of performances in recent weeks, helping West Ham to compile a four-match unbeaten run that has carried them to 39 points and all but secured their top-flight future. "I think the system is probably suiting us at the minute, to be fair. It's taken us a bit of time to get used to it, as we tried it earlier in the season and it didn't go too well. "In the last few games, we've defended really well when we needed to. We needed to pick up points coming away and I've always said that getting a point away from home in the Premier League, so we're happy."

Having kept clean sheets against Swansea City, Everton and now Stoke since his return to the team five matches ago, Collins believes the Hammers have established a more solid base on which to build in their remaining three matches – Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at home followed by a final-weekend trip to Burnley. "You can't lose game if you don't concede, so we're just getting back to basics, really," the No19 observed. "Looking at the game, I think we probably had the majority of chances. "Certainly Andre [Ayew] had a great overhead kick saved and we had a few other ones, but coming away and getting a point at this stage of the season is good. "We've had two nil-nils in a row, which is great for me personally as a defender, as I'm paid to keep clean sheets. We have probably lacked a bit up front in the last two games, but we've still picked up points."

Stoke City 0-0 West Ham United
By Ellie Thomason
BBC Sport

Stoke and West Ham edged closer to Premier League safety with a goalless draw at the Bet365 Stadium. Mark Hughes will be the happier of the two managers after the Potters reached the 40-point mark, nine points clear of Swansea in 18th with three games remaining. In a match with plenty of chances, goalkeepers Jack Butland and Adrian were in top form to ensure both sides kept a clean sheet. Andre Ayew had the best of West Ham's chances, with an acrobatic overhead kick forcing an equally impressive save from Butland. Marko Arnautovic looked to be through on goal for Stoke, but his volley from point-blank range was saved by Adrian.

A happy homecoming for Butland

The biggest cheer of the afternoon came when Butland's name was announced prior to kick-off. This was the 24-year-old's first Premier League appearance at home since 12 March 2016 - 413 days ago. The Stoke goalkeeper was called into action early on when Manuel Lanzini forced a save inside the first minute. He cut inside from the left, but his shot did not trouble Butland. Butland was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half, and he produced a moment of magic to prevent what would have been a spectacular goal from Ayew's overhead kick. England manager Gareth Southgate, who was watching from the stand, will have liked what he saw from Butland, who injured an ankle in England's 3-2 win over Germany last March. "I felt really good just being out there again. I'm pleased to be able to contribute and keep a clean sheet," he said. "The fans have been incredible throughout the last 13 months and supported me. It's been tough personally and I thoroughly enjoyed the really good reception."

The 'magic 40 points'

After a run of five straight Premier League defeats, the Hammers have gone four games unbeaten and manager Slaven Bilic looks to have steadied the ship.
West Ham are finding their form at the business end of the season, after a much-needed win over Premier League strugglers Swansea earlier in April followed by three consecutive draws against Sunderland, Everton and Stoke. Stoke have reached the 40-point benchmark, which usually secures Premier League safety, and West Ham are now just one point behind them with three games to play. Bilic guided West Ham to seventh last term - his first season in charge - while Stoke have finished ninth for the past three seasons. As it stands, just two points separate the Hammers in 14th and Southampton in ninth, leaving it all to play for in the congested mid-table battle. If Swansea lose against Manchester United on Sunday, Stoke will will require a single point to be mathematically safe, while West Ham will need just an additional two points.

Man of the match - Jack Butland

Considering it was his first home game in more than a year, it was like Jack Butland had never been away. He made a string of brilliant saves to keep Stoke in the game, and oozed confidence throughout.

'We're trying to get a fourth top-10 finish' - What the managers said

Stoke City boss Mark Hughes: "It was a difficult game for us. We needed to work hard today and try to break down a resolute West Ham team. They made it difficult for Everton last weekend and they made it difficult for us today. Sometimes you have to acknowledge the job that the opposition has done. "We just needed that one moment to convert a chance and open the game up, but credit to West Ham. In the past couple of games they've struck on somet ing that looks to be working for them. "It's a season that has, at times, frustrated us and we've still got games to go and are trying to get a fourth top-10 finish, which this club hasn't done in the past."

Bilic content with 'decent point' for Hammers
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic: "We defended as a team and limited them to a couple of chances. We created four or five chances but the problem is that we didn't score. "The clean sheet is giving the defenders a big dose of self-confidence, but we created more than enough chances to score a goal. "We want and we need to win games and for that we need to score goals. But let's be positive, it's a good point for us and we are now four games unbeaten and we are going to approach the remainder of the season in a positive way."

A rare clean sheet on the road - The stats

Stoke have enjoyed just one win in their past eight top-flight games (D2 L5).
West Ham have played out back-to-back goalless draws in the top-flight for the first time since December 2015 (three in a row).
Stoke failed to direct a single shot on target in the first half for only the second time in a Premier League home game this season.
Five of the past six Premier League meetings between these two sides have ended level.
The Potters mustered 19 shots without scoring, their highest shot tally without a goal in the Premier League since September 2014 (0-1 v Leicester).
Slaven Bilic's side kept their first clean sheet on the road in a Premier League game since October (vs Crystal Palace), ending a run of 13 games without one.
What's next?

Stoke travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, 6 May (15:00 BST) while West Ham host Tottenham in their penultimate home game of the season on Friday, 5 May (20:00).


Reports emerged this morning of the unhappiness of Hammer of the Year contender Mikael Antonio and most fans were concerned. The loss of one of our star performers and fan favourite would be awful news and thankfully there is no need to panic as yet.

It is true that a contract offer has been discussed with Antonio and so far it has not been accepted. The offer has been on the table for a while and the lack of acceptance is not new news. It is also accurate that Antonio has been offered a significant wage increase and he feels he deserves it. Our signing from Nottingham Forest believes however that he is entitled to be made one of the highest earners at the club which would be a huge increase on the wage that he is on now and therefore negotiations will continue but this is nothing to be concerned by.

The situation is similar to that of Winston Reid a year or so ago who also was offered a new deal which took a while for him to sign. Naturally these things do because agents try their very best to get the best that they can for their client and Antonio still has over 4 years to run on his contract so there is no rush to get it completed. There has also been no offers or interest made for the player from any of the top clubs yet and this also contributes to there being less urgency for the signature at this point.

Reports that he is unhappy with the medical staff appear to be wide of the mark as the injury was a hamstring injury which cannot be prevented. It was only a couple of days ago where Antonio was in the press naming positions that he believes the club need to strengthen in and this was a hint that he is already looking to the new season.

Whilst in the ideal world the contract would be offered and it signed immediately because the player is desperate to play for us, this is rarely the case now. Contract negotiations can take their time as players look to make as much as they can in their relatively short career. At this point however I would say that there is no need to panic and this is felt by the club itself. All parties involved are confident that an agreement will be reached in due course.

In other news, I am told that in training today the team set up with one change to the Everton game. A player who I thought had played really well apparently picked up a knock and as a precaution has dropped to the bench. Meaning that Noble returns from suspension and another player goes out of position. Of course things can change and I heared this first thing on a Friday but so far the selections have not changed from this point in the last few months.

We are also delighted to announce Mad dog Martin Allen as our next and final guest of the season for the Liverpool event. Get your tickets here for what should be a great event: Thank you to all those that do attend and tune in to our radio show. Here's to a big game tomorrow and hopefully three points.

Respect the point, says Collins
Filed: Saturday, 29th April 2017
By: Staff Writer

James Collins believes that West Ham could have nicked all three points at the Britannia Stadium this afternoon. However the veteran central defender was happy enough with the point - and a second successive clean sheet following last weekend's stalemate against Swansea at the Olympic Stadium "I think if someone had offered us that before the game we would've taken it as they've been playing really well at home and scoring lots of goals," he said. "So to come and get another clean sheet is good. "It's taken time to get there - we played this formation earlier on in the season and probably didn't play it so well. The last few games we've defended well in a period where we needed to. We needed to pick up points, coming away. "We got told a long time ago that a point away in the Premier League is always good, so we're happy. You can't lose a game if you don't concede so it's a case of getting back to basics, really." And Collins - who played yet another full 90 minutes as one of a three-man rearguard - felt that Andre Ayew may have won the game for the Hammers but for a tremendous save from sponsor's Man of the Match Jack Butland. "If you look at the game we've probably had the majority of chances," he surmised. "Certainly Andre had a great overhead kick which forced a great save - and a few other ones." "But coming away and getting a point at this stage of the season is good."

Masuaku reveals 'minor injury'
Filed: Saturday, 29th April 2017
By: Staff Writer

Arthur Masuaku has revealed that a minor injury was the reason behind him not returning for the second half at Stoke this afternoon. The 23-year-old full back had enjoyed a solid opening 45 minutes when he was replaced at the break by Aaron Cresswell, to the surprise of the travelling fans. And in order to clear up the mystery, Masuaku took to Twitter after the game to assuage any doubts or concerns - as you can see below - with the good news being that he expects to be fit for selection next weekend.

Slaven Bilic admits West Ham need a goalscorer after draw at Stoke
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 29/04/17 6:38pm

West Ham manager Slaven Bilic admits his side need a goalscorer after a second goalless draw on the trot in the Premier League. The Hammers drew 0-0 at Stoke on Saturday, with Andre Ayew, Manuel Lanzini and co missing several chances at the bet365 Stadium. With Andy Carroll currently out injured, Bilic's side are lacking firepower up top, something the manager is all too aware of. "They were really good, as they were against Everton, it's our third clean sheet in four games, which is a good basis to start. It gives you good composure, but we're just lacking someone that is going to score goals for us. "We kept a clean sheet, which is good, again a very good defensive performance, but we just couldn't convert the chances we created. We created more than enough chances to score a couple of goals. "As I said, I'm happy with the way we played, but we created more than them. I think we had four good chances. Basically you have to score that. "It's a good point for us. We wanted to beat them. We knew before the game it would be hard, but we blocked them good with a team effort. "On the ball we looked very good, but we just couldn't score a goal." West Ham are now eight points ahead of the drop zone, though 18th-place Swansea do have a game in hand over Bilic's side. The Croatian says although they would love to relax for the final three games of the season, West Ham are not out of the dog fight just yet. "I would love it to be that way, but still no club that is around us, below us or a little bit above us, still nine points to play for and we're going to do everything to collect as many as possible," he said.

Stoke 0-0 West Ham: Hammers move step closer to safety
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 29/04/17 5:19pm

West Ham inched closer to confirming Premier League survival with a 0-0 draw at Stoke on Saturday. The best chance of the game fell to the Hammers, with Andre Ayew forcing a fine save from Jack Butland with an acrobatic effort. Xherdan Shaqiri went close on two occasions in the second half, while Saido Berahino also saw a fine effort tipped wide by Adrian, but both sides eventually had to settle for a point. The result means Stoke reach the 40-point mark and stay 11th, while West Ham are a point behind in 14th, eight points clear of the drop zone. During a first half lacking in chances, Winston Reid pulled off a superb block to deny Berahino from close range, before the West Ham defender pulled off a similar tackle later in the half from Stoke's January signing. Then came the chance for Ayew, whose brilliant overhead kick from Arthur Masuaku's left-wing cross was tipped away brilliantly by Butland, who impressed in front of England manager Gareth Southgate.
West Ham almost took the lead on the stroke of half-time through Jonathan Calleri, who instead of wrapping his left foot around the ball from a rebound eight yards out, opted for a bizarre 'Rabona'-style effort, which was blocked. The game livened up in the second half with chances for both sides, the first falling to Cheikhou Kouyate, who struck just wide from 15 yards out on the right. Shaqiri then bundled an effort wide from six yards, before Berahino came close with a fierce effort from an acute angle, tipped wide brilliantly by Adrian. Butland then made two fine saves from Manuel Lanzini, first beating away a fierce effort from 20 yards, then saving with his feet from a close-range header. Stoke had the chance to win it with 14 minutes remaining as Shaqiri's fine ball found Marko Arnautovic, but the Austrian could not convert on the stretch as Adrian kept West Ham level again.

Player ratings

Stoke: Butland (7), Johnson (6), Shawcross (7), Martins Indi (6), Muniesa (6), Cameron (6), Whelan (6), Allen (6), Shaqiri (6), Berahino (6), Arnautovic (6)
Subs: Adam, Crouch.

West Ham: Adrian (7), Fonte (6), Reid (7), Collins (6), Fernandes (6), Kouyate (7), Nordtveit (6), Masuaku (6), Lanzini (6), Ayew (6), Calleri (5).
Subs: Cresswell (6), Snodgrass (6), Noble (6)

Man of the match: Winston Reid

Charlie Nicholas shouted: "He's gone and tried a Ribena" on Sky Sports Soccer Saturday - and everyone's in stitches
The Sky Sports Soccer Saturday pundit let his excitement get the better of him while watching Stoke City take on West Ham
The Mirror
17:31, 29 APR 2017

"He's only gone and tried a Ribena". Those were the words uttered by Charlie Nicholas that had absolutely everyone watching Sky Sports Soccer Saturday in absolute stitches. The pundit was reporting on Stoke City's Premier League clash with West Ham, which was a pretty dull affair and in desperate need of some excitement. And he didn't shy away from attempting to make the tie more entertaining with a brilliant comment - completely accidental of course. After Jeff Stelling hands him the spotlight he sets about reporting on the match at the Britannia Stadium and a passage of play from Jonathan Calleri. According to Nicholas, the 23-year-old Argentine attempts something flashy, although it's not quite clear what...
Well, we are assuming the Scot means a rabona, which involves a player passing or shooting the ball after crossing one leg behind the other. But Twitter is pretty sure Nicholas actually says something entirely different, and well, queue the laughter from absolutely everyone:

Nik Rendall @NikiRendall
Classic Charlie Nicholas instead of scoring he tries a "Ribena"
3:51 PM - 29 Apr 2017

Craig Rackham @kobrakai75
Why is Charlie Nicholas so surprised that Calleri tried a 'Ribena'? Rio Ferdinand tried one once #SoccerSaturday
3:51 PM - 29 Apr 2017
Retweets 1 1 like

⚒itsbillyrutts⚒ @itsbillyrutts
Can only think Calleri tried the Ribena because he's not confident on his weaker side.....
3:47 PM - 29 Apr 2017

Alex Dunn @alexdunn0307
'Great chance for West Ham' screams Charlie Nicholas. 'He's only gone and tried a ribena'
3:51 PM - 29 Apr 2017
Retweets 1 1 like
⚒Only me⚒ @trevslovechild
Think Charlie Nicholas got it right, that was a ribena!
3:56 PM - 29 Apr 2017

⚒itsbillyrutts⚒ @itsbillyrutts
Hahaha no mate called it a Ribena as he didn't pull it off 😂😂👍⚒
3:50 PM - 29 Apr 2017

JH @howarth1878
Charlie Nicholas just claimed a West Ham player tried a 'Ribena' 🙈
3:47 PM - 29 Apr 2017

Joe Harland @Tubes_Wasted
Charlie Nicholas saying ribena instead of rabona is the highlight of my day so far
3:46 PM - 29 Apr 2017

alan saunders @appyamma
Charlie Nicholas just said Calleri just tried a ribena? Think he meant rabona 😂
3:45 PM - 29 Apr 2017

Stoke 0-0 West Ham: Jonathan Calleri misses open goal with shocking Rabona effort - 5 things we learned
The Mirror
16:53, 29 APR 2017UPDATED16:58, 29 APR 2017

It was a real tale of two keepers. Jack Butland made only his second appearance after 13 months out with injury - and then made a great save to deny a superb overhead effort from Andre Ayew . It was another confident performance by the England International and it came under the watchful eye of Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate . Not to be outdone, West Ham's Spanish keeper Adrian pulled off a handful of point-blank saves to keep his side in it, and provide an invaluable point towards Premier League safety. The man from Seville turned over a great effort from Xherdan Shaqiri, then minutes later, kept out a Joe Allen shot, before denying Saido Berahino scoring his first goal in his 12 games for Stoke. It may not have had top billing - but tell that to the Stoke and West Ham fans. Both sides worked hard for a share of the points. Both have their eye of a top-half finish' with an eye on another season in the top flight.

Here are five things we learned...


England boss Gareth Southgate was here to watch Jack Butland make only his second appearance since breaking his ankle 13 months ago. Potters' boss Mark Hughes has told Butland to focus on his club first and foremost, but with England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland, and their friendly in Paris, coming up in June, Southgate is on alert. He must have been impressed by what he saw, particularly when Butland kept out a pretty sensational overhead effort from Andre Ayew.


Not a bit of it. They played to win; to cement their place in Mark Hughes' thinking for next season; and to try for a top-half finish for the fourth season running. And although West Ham are virtually safe, Slaven Bilic knows they could be dragged down without more security points.


Never mind on the pitch, both clubs are looking at their squads for next season. Hammers fans are already speculating about whether the club should keep certain players, the key one being Andy Carroll. Is it worth keeping the one-time record signing who has played only 41 per cent of match-play minutes possible since he moved from Liverpool for £15m? WIll they get anywhere near the right money? Where would he go? For Stoke, huge question marks hang over the future of their £18m man Gianelli Imbula, who last played on January 7th. WIll Jon Walters want away too? More questions than answers.


Football fans are notoriously fickle and both Stoke's Mark Hughes and West Ham's Slaven Billic have had their critics. But Potters' fans might be guilty of 'much wants more,' and might be guilty of being 'pot half empty rather than pot half full.' Pretty much the same for Billic. Certainly, his players worked hard for him at Stoke.


The Hammers' faithful may feel a bit short-changed this season, with great expectancy surrounding their first year in the London Stadium. It didn't quite go to plan, and there is unrest over the way boss Slaven Billic and his charges have performed over the season. But full marks to the 3,000 travelling army of fans who went to Stoke's 'Ice Station Zebra' stadium and who gave it the Bubbles throughout.


STOKE CITY (4-3-3): Butland 8; Johnson 7, Shawcross 7, Martins Indi 7, Muniesa 6; Allen 7 (Crouch 70, 6), Whelan 7, Cameron; Shaqiri 5, Berahino 5, Arnautovic 6

WEST HAM ( 3-5-2): Adrian 6; Fonte 7, Reid 6, Collins 6, Fernandes 7, Kouyate7, Nordtveit 6, Lanzini 6, Masuaka 6 (Cressswell 45, 6) Ayew 7 (Noble 69, 6), Calleri 6

West Ham's £1m loyalty payment to Dimitri Payet one of the reasons behind HMRC's football club raids
Dimitri Payet was paid a £1million loyalty sum by West Ham to get him to stay
The France midfielder left West Ham for Marseille for £25million in January
West Ham were one of the football clubs raided last week over a tax probe
Sportsmail can reveal the HMRC investigation involves 150 players in England
By Alex Miller and Nick Harris for The Mail on Sunday
PUBLISHED: 22:30, 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 23:25, 29 April 2017

A controversial £1million loyalty payment to France midfielder Dimitri Payet by West Ham was one trigger for last week's raids by the taxman on football clubs, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Payet signed for West Ham from Marseille in June 2015 for £10.7m and was a massive hit in his first season. But he left in January after effectively forcing his way out by going on strike. The manner of his £25m return to Marseille left a bitter taste, given that Payet had been paid the £1m loyalty sum in September last year, in an attempt to persuade him to stay. Insiders say that specific payment is now one focus of the tax probe by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officials. This newspaper can reveal that the investigation has expanded in recent months to involve some 150 players in England — most of them foreigners in the Premier League — and they include a number of junior footballers currently claiming tax breaks on image rights when they are largely unknown. The inquiry is aimed at trying to ascertain which companies or individuals — including clubs, agents and players — were responsible for paying tax on specific transactions, and whether they properly fulfilled their obligations to do so. There is no suggestion West Ham have done anything wrong. No firm conclusions will be reached for some time. But alleged tax evasion related to image rights and other payments from clubs to players and intermediaries is key.
Circumstances around at least four players involved in moves to Newcastle United are being looked at, including the transfers of Demba Ba from West Ham in 2011, Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse in January 2013, Papiss Cisse from Freiburg in 2012 and Sylvain Marveaux from Rennes in 2011. Ba's 'free' transfer to Newcastle six years ago illustrates the multi-faceted nature of many football deals. The player triggered a clause in his contract to allow him to move from West Ham for nothing when they were relegated at the end of the 2010-11 season but Newcastle still spent about £2m on fees related to signing him. Paperwork seen by The Mail on Sunday shows that Ba's agent Habib Sissoko received £200,000, an agent working for Newcastle received £275,000, a company with a bank account in Panama received £375,000 and a corporation owned by Ba received £913,500, apparently a signing-on fee. Another agent and a law firm also received money. None of the payments in themselves broke any rules or were illegal. But sources say that HMRC are assessing whether they were appropriately assessed for income purposes and taxed.
HMRC have yet to ascertain the precise circumstances of the Payet loyalty payment and are investigating it for tax reasons. West Ham insist they have done nothing wrong as a club. Vice-chairman Karren Brady said on Saturday that the club were asked to 'provide documentation to HMRC in relation to player transfers as part of a wider probe in football'. She added: 'This was the extent of their request and no approach has been made to any directors, officers or employees of the club. The club are thoroughly satisfied it has conducted itself appropriately in its transfer activity.' Well-placed sources say the raid on West Ham resulted in the confiscation of an email trail and a substantial amount of paperwork regarding the £1m Payet loyalty payment and investigators will be looking for more detail of what appears to be 'a complex arrangement'. West Ham may have been relieved to get rid of a player who had become a headache towards the end of his Hammers tenure, especially at a profit, but it seems he will leave a cloud over the club for some time. A source close to the investigation into West Ham and Newcastle told The Mail on Sunday that HMRC are concentrating on image rights connected with mainly foreign signings, as well as payments to agents.
The source said the number of players being investigated across football for alleged image rights-related tax dodges has tripled to 150 since December. As many as another 10 clubs may be investigated over the next three months. 'What's happened so far is the tip of the iceberg,' our source added. A number of football-based payments to British Virgin Islands are also being looked at, while tax experts have predicted the whole tax system in football will eventually come under the microscope. One expert said: 'It cannot be right that a number of Premier League clubs have very young players, not even in the first team, earning 20 per cent of their salaries through image rights before anyone knows whether they will even make it in the game'.

West Ham plot move for Chelsea star: Slaven Bilic has already had two bids rejected
WEST HAM have launched a third attempt to persuade London rivals Chelsea to loan them Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi next season.
PUBLISHED: 22:30, Sat, Apr 29, 2017

West Ham have failed with bids to take Batshuayi to the London Stadium in the last two transfer windows and are hoping it's a case of third time lucky. Batshuayi was a target for the East London side before he opted to move to Stamford Bridge from Marseille last July. But the move has turned out to be nothing short of a disaster for Batshuayi, 23, who has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place at Chelsea. He has only made 24 appearances in all competitions ironically making his debut on the opening day of the season against Slaven Bilic's side. Michy Batshuayi hits back at ArsenalFanTV over Troopz's FA Cup final prediction, and Gunners supporters love it The Hammers are keen to try and get some early transfer business agreed after struggling for the whole of last summer to get players into the club. Batshuayi is contracted to Chelsea until the summer of 2021.

Jonathan Calleri won't be staying and with no striker, the Hammers were never going to win
It was a 0-0 bore draw at the Bet365 and there wasn't too much to talk about
Football London
19:30, 29 APR 2017

Jonathan Calleri had another chance to show us what he was made of against Stoke, just like he did against Everton. He didn't impress in that game and this time around, he didn't fare much better. While he was short of service and a lack of chances against Everton, the same cannot be said for today. He had two golden opportunities to bag just his second goal in claret and blue but he made an absolute horlicks of them both. The two chances came in the first half. His first chance was the more difficult one but still, he should have done better. The striker was 12 yards out, only Jack Butland to beat and he skied it 20 yards over the bar. It was more like a chip shot, he didn't put hsi foot through the ball and over it went. His second chance towards the end of the half was unforgivable, though. He'd done the hard work, getting to the byline and playing the ball square, which was blocked. It rebounded to him and Calleri had an empty net to aim at with his left foot. But, for some inexcusable reason, he tried a rabona shot so the ball was heading towards the near post instead of the far and Bruno Martins Indi blocked it.
That was the closest the Hammers really got in the game apart from Andre Ayew's overhead kick on the half hour mark but it was a dire game. West Ham's cause and the nearly 3,000 visiting fans' hopes were not helped when Slaven Bilic hauled off Andre Ayew with 20 minutes to go. Calleri was already off, so the Hammers didn't have a striker on the pitch, Robert Snodgrass and Manuel Lanzini were leading the line. It was never going to be a classic and 0-0 was probably about right. If the Hammers had Andy Carroll or even Diafra Sakho on the pitch then they would have won that game. Unfortunately for Calleri though, he hasn't shown enough to keep hold of. We thought that after the Everton game, that's absolutely confirmed now. Two successive games, two successive 0-0 draws. The Hammers have kept three clean sheets in the past four games which is a bonus and the defence has looked solid as a rock, Jose Fonte is really coming into his own now. He's starting to repay his transfer fee. James Collins was his usual self, never gave much away at all and Winston Reid - my Hammer of the Year by the way - was excellent again. The last two games, Bilic has had to set up the team not to lose, rather than to go and win, simply down to the lack of offensive firepower. West Ham are a different team entirely with a decent striker on the park so don't think this is a sign of things to come. Unless they don't buy a striker in the summer, then questions will be asked.

Full transcript as Slaven Bilic defends Jonathan Calleri in West Ham draw at Stoke
What did the boss have to say after the game?
Football London
17:56, 29 APR 2017

Slaven Bilic faced the media after a second successive 0-0 draw, this time with Stoke at the Bet365 Stadium. The visitors had the better chances but couldn't find a way past Jack Butland without coming under too much pressure themselves. It's three clean sheets in four games for Bilic's team as well as they inch ever closer to that magical 40-point barrier. 'It was harder to miss than score!' - West Ham fans rage over Jonathan Calleri's rabona fail Here is everything the boss had to say after the game. "I agree, we should have had more. I am pleased with the way that we played and a third clean sheet in four games. That is teamwork, not down to the system with three centre backs. I am pleased with the point, it is not easy coming here. We limited Stoke to a couple of really good chances, the big one from Arnautovic when we lost the ball and one with Joe Allen but we created a lot. We were good on the ball, created more than enough to score one goal to be fair but we didn't score. Some of the great reactions from their goalkeeper, like the Ayew chance, it was great reflex from him. Then he pulled off three saves in the space of ten seconds in the second half. We got into some very dangerous areas to score but unlike against Everton, we created more. We cant be too happy though, we have to score goals but we have to be pleased with the point. We coped with their threat really well. It's possible to win every ball but we got the second balls. I am pleased with the performance, pleased with the point but in here [points at his belly], there is a bit of frustration that we didn't win the game.
I think we deserved to go in front in this game. Last year we went in front and we lost 2-1 but we deserved to be ahead then and then again, today as wel. We have no-one to blame but ourselves for us not scoring, though.
If I was sure that he [Calleri] could have smashed it with his left id have gone crazy at him for missing it. I think the ball was in a position where it wasn't easy for him to have a shot with his left foot. It sounds crazy and strange but for him, it was easier to take this unexpected shot in a way. We need more points. It may be enough, nobody knows but we don't want to get into the last game of the season with the radio on, asking what is the score is here or there, we need to avoid it. We are not safe, we have a lot to play for still but we need more points.


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