HMRC, the department of the UK government responsible for tax collection, has confirmed that they are investigating 198 players from clubs in the English football league system, after they became concerned with potential tax-avoidance schemes being utilised by players and agents in relation to image rights.
Clubs and players in the UK can earn a substantial income through image rights, which are taxed at a lower rate than standard wages. However, players are not permitted to receive more than 20 per cent of their income through image rights, to ensure that the players are paying a fair amount of tax on their earnings.
News of the investigation comes from The Daily Mail, who state that 198 players at 44 different clubs are now under investigation, as well as 29 agents.
This movement by HMRC has recovered £329m in unpaid taxes, with several clubs reaching a settlement with HMRC earlier in the year. Players, agents and clubs have all been targeted by the investigation, which seeks to prevent the use of tax-avoidance schemes and the exploitation of loopholes in relation to image rights.
A spokesperson for HMRC said: "HMRC carefully scrutinises the individual image rights arrangements between football clubs and their players to make sure the right tax is being paid in the UK.
"We are carrying out visits to every Premier League club and most football league clubs, along with their players. We're currently making enquiries into 198 footballers, 44 football clubs and 29 agents for a range of issues, including image rights abuse.
"HMRC rigorously enforces the rules and has brought in £329 million in extra tax by tackling non-compliance in the football industry."
HMRC also confirmed that they regularly discuss international cases of tax avoidance, such as the prosecutions of Alexis Sanchez and Jose Mourinho of Manchester United, for incidents relating to the their respective periods in Spain.
The spokesperson added: "HMRC review international investigations to consider any implications for UK tax, and regularly exchange information with other countries."