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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 06:47 GMT 07:47 UK
Ferguson backs Rooney over claims
Man Utd and England Wayne Rooney
Rooney was the subject of newspaper claims on Sunday
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed newspaper claims star striker Wayne Rooney has a gambling problem.

"It is just nonsense but these things will happen to the boy throughout his life," said Ferguson.

"We have had this with George Best, we had it with Paul Gascoigne and we had it with David Beckham.

"We know Wayne Rooney. It is rubbish and we shall dismiss it the best we can," he added.

The 20-year-old striker was on the front pages for all the wrong reasons this weekend, with alleged debts of 700,000 which is said to have caused a bad atmosphere within the England camp.

Reports claim Rooney owes the money to one of Michael Owen's business partners and the debt is causing a rift between the England team-mates.

FA spokesman Adrian Bevington confirmed England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson is set to talk to Rooney following the claims in the Sunday Mirror.

But the Football Association stressed it was "unaware of any problems in the England team dressing room".

There is little the FA can do to prevent any individuals gambling privately on horse or greyhound racing
FA spokesman Adrian Bevington

According to the newspaper, Rooney, who earns an estimated 50,000 a week on the pitch and millions more a year from sponsorship deals, is one of a number of England players said to be involved in betting on sports other than their own.

Rooney's spokesman refused to be drawn on the allegations, telling the Sunday Mirror: "We have no comment to make."

But the Professional Footballers Association are ready to lend their support to the striker, according to deputy chief executive Mick McGuire.

"If these claims are true, then it would be a concern to us," he said.

"Not withstanding his salary levels, it would be a concern if any member of our organisation accrued a debt of this size.

"I know Wayne well and know he has excellent support structures around him, both in terms of his advisers and Manchester United as a club.

"But we will be in touch with his advisers early in the week to see if there is any truth in what has been reported and if there is anything we can do to help."

However, Bevington added: "We should state there is little the FA can do to prevent any individuals gambling privately on horse or greyhound racing though there are rules preventing betting on any football matches or competitions they are involved in."

Fifa regulations brought in recently mean that players at this summer's World Cup will have to sign a declaration that they will not gamble on the tournament, with the threat of expulsion if they are caught out.

But there are no rules preventing them from betting on sports they are not involved in.




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