Rooney threatens sponsor strike over FA ban
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has threatened to withdraw all co-operation with the Football Association's commercial programmes in response to the three-match ban he was handed last week.
Despite United claiming they were informed Rooney would escape punishment following his red card against Porto in the recent Amsterdam tournament, the striker must sit out the Premiership encounters with Charlton, Watford and Tottenham.
An independent three-man disciplinary panel backed up the view of referee Ruud Bossen that Rooney deserved to be dismissed for his aerial challenge on Porto defender Pepe, even though the TV replays showed the striker clearly keep his eye on the ball as he jumped.
The verdict drew an angry response from United, with skipper Gary Neville describing it as `shocking', while new England coach Steve McClaren has declared it `unhelpful' as he tries to foster relations with the Premiership's major clubs.
Now, having taken legal advice, Rooney has hit back. And, in a letter to FA chief executive Brian Barwick, issued by his advisor Paul Stretford, copied to United counterpart David Gill and which McClaren was informed of on Friday, the 20-year-old is threatening not to allow his image to be used as part of any promotional campaign, or get involved in commercial events with FA partners.
'Strong representation has been made to the FA regarding the imposition of this three-match ban, which Wayne Rooney feels strongly is entirely unjustified,' a spokesman for Rooney confirmed to PA Sport.
In the letter, Stretford expresses 'Wayne's complete dismay' at the decision, adding that Rooney feels `extremely let down'.
'While he will continue if selected to play for his country with pride and commitment, he is considering withdrawing his support for the FA's commercial programme: in other words, he will not allow his image to be used or exploited, or participate in personal appearances for and on behalf of the FA's commercial partners unless he is satisfied with how the FA conducts its affairs in regard to player matters.'
Rooney is now awaiting a reply to the letter before deciding on his next course of action.
Although it would appear there is no imminent problem given the striker is suspended for next month's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Andorra and Macedonia, the FA's marketing arm will be making plans to promote the Old Trafford encounter with Macedonia on October 7.
With former skipper David Beckham not part of McClaren's plans, Rooney is now by far the most recognisable member of the England fold.
It would be safe to assume the FA planned to use Rooney's picture in their plans to sell tickets for the Macedonia clash.
However, until the present dispute is resolved, they will be unable to do so and neither will the FA be able to plan any commercial campaigns around him.