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that Zahavi did not have a provision written into Ferdinand's original contract that his agent would be entitled to a payment when his client signed his second deal at Old Trafford.

United stopped that policy when it was disclosed in their financial results last year that Rodger Linse, Ruud van Nistelrooy's agent, was due £1.2m over the course of the Dutchman's current deal simply for the player signing again. Ferdinand's delay in signing the deal is believed to have centred on Zahavi's cut of his client's new wages, which had to be raised to £120,000 a week to accommodate his agent's commission.

The United chief executive, David Gill, has been uncompromising over the new policy of refusing to pay agents for renegotiating deals for existing players and no fees were paid in the recent new contracts for Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. .

The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, said it was "great news" that Ferdinand had signed a new contract. "We are pleased with the outcome. We can look forward to the future."

Ferdinand said: "I'm delighted to be signing a new deal... I am looking forward to what I expect will be a great season. It's good to get this matter out of the way to allow me to concentrate on playing for United."

The player will find out tonight whether fans have forgiven him for temporarily rejecting what so many considered a vast salary at a time when many ordinary supporters were concerned about rising ticket prices under the Glazer takeover. Tonight will see another major fans' protest at Old Trafford against their American owners - the Glazers can at least regard Ferdinand's promise as a small victory.