HM Revenues & Customs (HMRC) is probing almost 200 footballers as part of its crackdown on tax avoidance in the sport.

According to the Daily Mail, the number of players under investigation has risen from 181 in April to 198, with 44 Premiership footballers said to be involved. The number of agents being probed has increased from 21 to 29.

The investigation covers a range of areas from image rights loopholes, to the use of tax avoidance schemes.

A spokesperson from 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.’

The tax office added its ‘rigorous’ enforcement on the football industry has netted £329 million in extra tax.

Earlier this year former top-flight agent Jerome Anderson, who had the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp on his books, lost a £1.2 million tax battle with HMRC.

Meanwhile former football managers Sir Alex Ferguson, Sven Göran Eriksson and Glenn Hoddle are among a number of stars facing hefty ‘dry tax’ bills from a failed film investment scheme.