Seven people, including the president of Catania, have been arrested over suspected match-fixing involving the Italian Serie B side.

They are accused of committing “fraud in sporting competition”, according to a Catania police statement.

Antonino Pulvirenti and other managerial staff at the Sicilian side are accused of paying opponents to lose matches to enable Catania to remain in Serie B – the second tier of the Italian football league. Catania finished just two points clear of relegation play-offs this season.

Serie B chief Andrea Abodi said the accusations were another a blow to the reputation of Italian football, which has been rocked by a number of match-fixing investigations in recent years.

“This news leaves us in dismay,” he told SkyTG24.

Detectives carried out searches at premises in Catania and elsewhere in Italy. All those arrested or investigated are linked to Catania and face accusations of fraud in sporting competition.

The authorities have not released details of the matches on which the investigation is focused.

Prosecutors said the match-fixing allegations centred around five or six games.

Catania police superintendent Marcello Cardona said the “extremely complex investigation” had been prompted by a complaint from club president Antonino Pulvirenti.

Catania were relegated from Serie A last year, ending an eight-year residence in Italy’s top flight.