Rooney's '£700,000 gambling debt'

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The Independent Online

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, according to the Sunday Mirror newspaper. It is not the first time England players have been linked to the pursuit of gambling.

Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson, who owns his own racehorse, and former England boss Kevin Keegan have reputations for enjoying a bit of a flutter. Michael Owen, who owns four racehorses, is well known for his love of gambling and in 2003 he admitted to being an "occasional" gambler who had run up £30,000-£40,000 losses from his bets.

Last night, a spokesman for Rooney, 20, refused to discuss the newspaper's claims, saying: "We have got absolutely no comment to make at all."

The Football Association said Eriksson would speak to the players allegedly involved to clarify the situation. The players are due to travel to Germany for their World Cup matches in less than two months' time.

Adrian Bevington, FA director of communications, said: "The FA would like to make it clear we are unaware of any problems in the England team dressing room due to issues surrounding gambling, or anything else come to that.

"Under Sven, the England team have enjoyed a fantastic spirit within the camp, a fact that is regularly made clear by the players.

"This spirit has ensured qualification to three consecutive tournaments. However, on being made aware of these allegations by the Sunday Mirror, we believe England head coach Sven Goran Eriksson will speak to the players allegedly involved to clarify the facts."

But he added: "We should also state that 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."