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Monday, January 23, 2006
United defend 1.5m payment to Rooney's agent

Manchester United chief executive David Gill insists the Old Trafford outfit have not paid over the odds in sanctioning a 1.5million payment to Wayne Rooney's agent.

The staggering sum was part of the deal which saw Rooney complete a 27million move to United from Everton in August 2004.

Despite a formal bid from Newcastle, Rooney had made it known that he was only interested in joining the Red Devils, a fact which just makes the cash paid to the player's agent Paul Stretford appear more remarkable.

Yet Gill, who will this morning confirm a 20 per cent dip in profits to 46million, is adamant the money represents the market rate for transfers of this magnitude.

'These sums represent the market place we operate in and the costs which have to be incurred to secure top talent,' said Gill. 'The agent provides a service. The issue is who pays for it, the player or the acquiring club.

'But either way, it is not a zero-sum game. In the case of Wayne Rooney, if he had to pay his agent, he would just demand a higher salary. The money has to come from somewhere.'

Despite United now reverting back to the private ownership of Malcolm Glazer, Gill has opted to continue the tradition of United's PLC days by outlining payments to agents.

But, by being the only Premier League club to do so, Gill feels United come in for some unfair criticism.

'We have nothing to hide,' he said. 'We are transparent and publish our figures when no other Premier League club does, so I do not see why we should be castigated or hauled over the coals for it.

'As a club we believe the whole regulatory system would benefit from universal publication and it would help debunk some of the myths around agents at the moment.'

But, while he accepts by definition not all agents are 'good', Gill is adamant he has no evidence of a bung culture many believe to be prevalent in the United Kingdom.

'I have never experienced it,' stated Gill. 'I have heard what people say about it but I have never come across it.

'In nine years at the club I have been increasingly involved in transfer dealings and I can categorically deny anyone has mentioned anything at all like that to me.

'Like most things in life, there are good agents and bad agents. The player is the boss and the agent should be carrying out his wishes but I accept sometimes it works the other way round.

'However, as a club we operate in a very professional manner. We have agreements, everything is registered and all the payments go through the FA.'

Although Gill confirmed the 12million arrivals of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic represent United's last activity during the transfer window, he said money will be made available to Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer to reinforce his midfield.

There were many who claimed Ferguson's days at Old Trafford were numbered following United's disastrous early exit from the Champions League and failure to keep pace with Chelsea in the Premiership.

However, Gill, who cited a loss in media revenues as the main reason for the fall in profits, has refuted that theory.

'Sir Alex has the full support of everyone at the club and will be here for many years to come,' said Gill. 'He has the energy, enthusiasm and appetite to ensure we get back up there challenging for the league.'

• Greater Manchester Police have written to the Football Association and Manchester United to complain over Gary Neville's goal celebrations in the 1-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.

United skipper Neville ran the length of the pitch to celebrate Rio Ferdinand's match-winning header in front of the opposition fans.

A statement from GMP read: 'Chief Superintendent Andy Holt has written a letter expressing his concern. No criminal investigation is taking place at this stage.'

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