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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Agent 'saw Rooney as cash cow'
Paul Stretford (back left) took over as Rooney's agent
England football star Wayne Rooney was viewed as a "cash cow" by his agent, a court has heard.

Paul Stretford, who runs the Proactive agency, was "desperate" to represent the teenage player, it was alleged.

Boxing promoter John Hyland and brothers Christopher and Anthony Bacon deny demanding money with menaces from Mr Stretford, in June 2003.

Rooney's father Thomas told Warrington Crown Court a solicitor advised them when the player changed agent.

Wrangling over striker

The three defendants are alleged to have tried to force Mr Stretford into signing a contract in which he would pay over a large cut of his future Rooney earnings.

The bust-up followed months of wrangling over who should represent the teenage striker, who had previously been a client of the pro-Form agency but had moved to Stretford's Proactive agency.

On Tuesday the jury heard evidence from the player's father, Thomas Wayne Rooney, who confirmed that he had been to see Liverpool-based solicitor Kevin Dooley for advice while changing his son's agent.

He was asked by defence barrister Lord Carlile QC if he was aware that Mr Dooley, now deceased, was at that time under investigation for defrauding several clients out of thousands of pounds.

'Milk the cow'

Mr Rooney said he had not been recommended to see Mr Dooley by Mr Stretford or anyone else at Proactive.

Lord Carlile told Judge David Hale: "It is the defence assertion that Mr Stretford was desperate to get Wayne Rooney as his client because he knew he could milk the cow.

"If a solicitor was doing that, he would be struck off without a moment's hesitation.

"There is an issue in this case about Paul Stretford's many interests in Wayne Rooney and the ruthless way in which he approached those interests."

Thanked agent

The court heard evidence from Mick Doherty, who had worked at Everton FC as youth recruitment officer but moved to a similar role at Proactive in 2000.

He denied suggestions by Lord Carlile that he had been taken on by Mr Stretford because of his close links with the Rooney family.

He also denied any knowledge that Mr Stretford had planned a meeting involving several high-level players and managers to form an action plan on how to lure Rooney.

Lord Carlile said the meeting would have involved Walter Smith, Kevin Keegan, Kevin Campbell, Alan Stubbs and Steve Watson.

The trial continues and is expected to last two weeks.

Agent 'in tears following threat'
04 Oct 04  |  Manchester
Agent blackmail accused in court
09 Sep 03  |  Merseyside

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