London - Six men have been arrested by police investigating alleged fixing in English football matches, amid claims Thursday of attempts to defraud Asian betting websites.
At least three footballers and an agent are among the six arrested, said The Daily Telegraph newspaper, which said an undercover investigation by its reporters had triggered the police swoop.
The report said match-fixers from Asia were targeting lower-league English games.
The new National Crime Agency (NCA), Britain's answer to the FBI, said they were probing a suspected international gambling ring.
"Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing," said a spokesman.
"The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate.
"This is an active investigation and we are unable to provide further details at this time."
The men were being held at a police station in central England on suspicion of bribery and fraud offences, the Telegraph said.
A Singaporean "fixer" was recorded telling undercover reporters that the results of English games could be decided for 50,000 ($81,000, 60,000 euros) and correctly predicted the outcome of three games played by one team.
The Telegraph subsequently said the "fixer" had told them he could also bribe referees across Europe to manipulate results for a fee of 20,000.
The team and arrested players cannot be named for legal reasons, but the agent was named by the Telegraph as former Bolton Wanderers striker Delroy Facey.
No teams in England's lucrative Premier League are believed to be involved in the probe.
The fixer explained that gamblers could use the insider information to place bets with Asian companies.
A spokesman for the Football Association, the sport's governing body in England, said: "The FA has been made aware of a number of arrests in relation to an NCA investigation.
"We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations."
The Football League, which runs the three professional divisions below the Premier League, said they had not been contacted by the police.
"We understand from media reports that there is an ongoing police investigation into alleged match-fixing in domestic football," chief executive Shaun Harvey said in a statement.
"To date, we have had no contact from the police regarding this matter.
"The threat of corruption is something that the Football League and the other football authorities treat with the utmost seriousness.
"The integrity of our matches and our competitions is the bedrock of the domestic game."
Facey played for several clubs during a professional career that began at his hometown side Huddersfield in 1996 and eventually appeared in the Premier League for Bolton.
He scored for Bolton in successive matches against Everton and Birmingham in 2003 but was unable to win a permanent spot and eventually moved on.
Britain's Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, responding to news of the arrests, told London's LBC Radio: "It needs to be looked at. Like any person who follows football I've read accounts of football match fixing in other countries and thought there by the grace of God go we.
"To hear that it's now being investigated here, there have been arrests in the Midlands, is very worrying.
"I hope that's the sum total of it. It would be terrible if we look back in months and years to come and discover this is the tip of (the iceberg)."
In February, Europe-wide police agency Europol said it had found evidence of match-fixing in top international football matches and it had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was behind the operation.
The biggest case of fixing in sport in Britain in recent years involved three Pakistan cricketers and a British agent who were jailed in 2011 for spot-fixing during a Test match against hosts England.
The men were involved in pre-arranging no-balls for shadowy South Asian betting rings.