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Page last updated at 21:38 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 22:38 UK

Wayne Rooney contract saga is 'PR disaster'

Wayne Rooney scores against Aston Villa

Rooney heads League Cup winner (UK only)

By Elizabeth Hudson

Wayne Rooney's contract saga has been a "public relations disaster" according to publicity agent Max Clifford.

The 24-year-old Manchester United and England striker signed a new five-year deal on Friday only days after saying he wanted to leave.

"It has been a public relations disaster for him," industry expert Clifford told BBC Sport.

"If Wayne Rooney cares about what people think, he has got a lot to do over the next two or three years."

Despite arriving at last summer's World Cup in South Africa as one of the best players in the world, Rooney's performances were disappointing as England exited at the last-16 stage, having only won one game.

He also had to apologise after reacting angrily to England fans booing during the 0-0 draw with Algeria.

In September, The News of the World and the Sunday Mirror newspapers alleged Rooney slept with a prostitute while his wife Coleen was pregnant with their son and he was subsequently dropped by Coca-Cola from an advertising campaign.

Prior to agreeing his new contract, Rooney claimed that United were unable to match his ambition only to then agree a five-year contract, thought to be worth around £42m or £160,000 per week.

I haven't seen any positive publicity about Rooney for a long time

PR expert Max Clifford

"The fact that he has done a complete U-turn and is now staying at Manchester United doesn't really add to his credibility," said Clifford.

"It looked like he thought he didn't want to be at United unless they paid him a lot of money, so the only deduction from that is he is staying because they are paying him a lot of money," said Clifford, who has worked with many high-profile clients during his career.

"His performance at the World Cup damaged his most important asset, his standing as a top footballer, and since then it has been one disaster after another.

"These incidents will not have helped Rooney's popularity and appeal and the Rooney brand has been badly damaged.

"In terms of PR, in recent days, all you have seen is a lot of criticism of him and if there has been a response from the Rooney camp it hasn't come across."


"The media won't be too happy. A lot of people out there will think they have been misled and it was all about the negotiations."

However Clifford believes that Rooney can rescue his reputation - if he starts to perform on the pitch.

"If he can recapture the sort of form that made him a top player in the world for Manchester United and England, then he will quickly get back on side," said Clifford

"I'm sure when it comes to it, all United fans care about is that he is scoring for them and the club is successful so if he can do that, they will quickly forgive and forget about him saying he wants to leave."

If "brand" Rooney has taken a knock, conversely the contract impasse has allowed Rooney's agent Paul Stretford to negotiate a much better deal for his client.

"In terms of public relations it has been dreadful but in business terms his agent has been very successful," suggested Clifford.

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see also
Rooney makes pledge to supporters
22 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney signs new Man Utd contract
22 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney intent on leaving Man Utd
20 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Man Utd urge patience over Rooney
22 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Man City brush aside Rooney talk
20 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney wants to leave - Ferguson
19 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney 'will not sign new deal'
18 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
The man behind Rooney's riches
19 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney denies ankle injury claim
13 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney removed from Coke campaign
04 Oct 10 |  Man Utd
Ferguson backs Rooney to recover
15 Jul 10 |  Man Utd
Rooney's wealth at heart of case
15 Jul 10 |  Manchester

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