Police in Florida have charged the owner of NFL team the New England Patriots with soliciting prostitution.

Officers said they have videotape of Robert Kraft paying for a sex act inside an illicit massage parlour.

Jupiter police told reporters that the 77-year-old Kraft has not been arrested. A warrant will be issued and his lawyers will be notified.

The charge comes amid a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking in the area surrounding Palm Beach County.

About 200 arrest warrants have been issued in recent days and more are expected.

The Patriots won the Super Bowl earlier this month in Atlanta, defeating the Los Angeles Rams in the showpiece match.

A spokesman for Kraft categorically denied that he “engaged in any illegal activity”.

Robert Kraft Robert Kraft has been charged with solicitation of prostitution (Steven Senne/AP)

The statement added: “Because it is a judicial matter, we will not be commenting further.”

Jupiter police chief Daniel Kerr said he was shocked to learn that Kraft, who is reportedly worth six billion dollars (£4.6 billion) was paying for sex inside a massage parlour, the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.

“We are as equally stunned as everyone else,” Kerr said.

The Palm Beach County state attorney’s office, which would prosecute the case, had no comment.

Kraft lives in Massachusetts and has a home in the Palm Beach area. He is a frequent guest of President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club. Though a Democrat, he is friendly with Mr Trump.

Kraft’s wife Myra Hiatt Kraft died in 2011. He has been dating 39-year-old actress, Ricki Noel Lander, since 2012.

The NFL did not immediately respond to a message Friday seeking comment.

Under league policy, players, owners, coaches and other employees can be punished for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

“Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of personal conduct policy occur,” the policy says.

Most people charged for the first time for soliciting a prostitute in Florida are allowed to enter a diversion programme, said lawyer David Weinstein, a former prosecutor.

Kraft would probably have to perform 100 hours of community service and pay to attend an educational programme about the negative effects of prostitution and human trafficking, he said.

Vero Beach police Chief David Currey, whose agency has been involved in the investigation, told reporters earlier this week that the prostitutes were victims who have been trapped into the trade.

“These girls are there all day long, into the evening. They can’t leave and they are performing sex acts,” Mr Currey said, according to TCPalm.

“Some of them may tell us they’re OK, but they’re not.”

Kraft, who made his initial fortune through a packaging company, was a Patriots season ticket owner when he purchased the team’s previous stadium in 1988, then used his leverage to buy the team in 1994 to keep if from moving to St Louis.