THREE Hampshire cricket clubs are having their accounts investigated by the taxman.

The news comes as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) launches a new crackdown on perks to professionals and payments to ground staff.

Tax inspectors are looking through the books of minor league clubs to see if there are any untaxed earnings in payments to staff such as bar workers or coaches.

But with most small clubs operating on a voluntary basis the move has sparked concern among clubs across the country, with many fearing the tax bills could force them to fold.

Some clubs elsewhere in the country have already been handed tax bills for £15,000 for untaxed earnings.

St Cross Symondians in Winchester is one of the three Southern Electric Premier League clubs which has been investigated, but chairman Jon Player said the outcome had been “not too damaging” for the club and that negotiations with HMRC had come to a “satisfactory” outcome.

Some clubs have accused HMRC of picking on easy targets while giants such as Starbucks, Amazon and Google avoid paying billions of pounds in tax.

A spokesman for the Hampshire Cricket Board said “the board has been out to visit the clubs it represents to make sure they are vigilant and are using best practice.”

A spokesman for HMRC said: "HMRC works to ensure employers are correctly operating their payroll system, so that everyone pays the right amount of tax."