Newcastle United and West Ham United’s grounds have been raided in a fraud investigation.
It is understood Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley was among “several men within professional football” who were arrested.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said it had deployed 180 officers across the UK and France.
The BBC understands the suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud amounts to £5m.
HMRC said it searched premises in the north east and south east of England, and seized business records, financial records, computers and mobile phones.
West Ham’s London Olympic Stadium and Newcastle’s St James’ Park were among the locations raided.
HMRC officers also visited offices belonging to Chelsea FC “in connection with its wider investigation”, a club spokesman confirmed.
But it is understood the club’s premises were not raided and no arrests were made.
“HMRC has requested certain information which the club will provide,” the spokesman said.
Sources told the BBC the Magpies’ managing director Mr Charnley, 39, was earlier taken away from St James’ Park by officers.
He became the club’s managing director three years ago, and has reportedly been credited with persuading manager Rafa Benitez to stay at the club.