Football: Ferguson consults lawyers over Jones video

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The Independent Online
VINNY JONES grovelled yesterday for his part in the making of the video film 'Soccer's Hard Men', adding that the final edited version was not what he had expected to see.

While the makers, VVL Ltd, were preparing to issue the first 30,000 copies of the film, which goes on sale early this month, and predicting that the final sales figure might match their best-selling 'Lovers' Guide' (350,000), the football world reacted violently.

The Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, who is believed to have been quoted, was seeing his lawyers yesterday. 'The company that made this video has much to answer for,' he said.

Tommy Smith, the former Liverpool captain who was also named, called it a 'sick publicity stunt'. Ferguson, Smith and Ron Harris, the former Chelsea player, are all believed to have been included by the splicing of various film clips that may or may not have been taken out of context. There could be copyright action by other film makers.

The film purports to show how opponents are elbowed, assaulted while off the ball and have their calves raked from behind, and is said to include the practices of seizing opponents by their armpit hairs or genitals.

Monica Hartland, the deputy chairman of the National Federation of Supporters' Clubs, who referred to players' wages and signing-on fees in recessionary times as 'an obscenity', said: 'It is imperative that drastic action be taken against Jones. The professional game needs no further traducement by one of its own.'

Jones was charged by the FA on Wednesday with bringing the game into disrepute. His club chairman, Sam Hammam, called him a 'mosquito brain' and is concerned that Wimbledon might be punished for something that happened while Jones was at Chelsea.

Jones has apologised profusely to his fellow players and to Wimbledon, adding that he was devoting the 'small amount' he received for making the film to a charity and was taking legal advice to try to prevent the video being exploited 'in a manner suggesting that its finally edited version is or was approved by me'. Jones now realised that he or his agent should have insisted on seeing the final version.

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, is also seeking a legal ruling on the possibility of an injunction to prevent the sale of the video.

Jones added: 'I'm gutted. I've come a long way over a few short years and I feel all the good I have achieved has come apart at the seams in one hit. I must stress to all young players that they must not be guided by this.'

Several members of the highly talented Manchester United side who won the FA Youth Cup are on the verge of starting their senior careers.

Four players, who were in the squad for the first leg of the Uefa Cup first-round match against Torpedo Moscow, are in the England Under-18 squad for a friendly match against France in Boulogne next Wednesday.

The midfielder Gary Neville did appear for two minutes in the first leg against Torpedo at Old Trafford and United are contemplating giving a senior debut to one or more of their young strikers, Ben Thornley, Colin McKee, Paul Scholes and Keith Gillespie, at Middlesbrough tomorrow.

Barnsley last night signed Wayne Biggins, Stoke City's top scorer last season with 24 goals, for a fee to be decided by an independent tribunal. Stoke want pounds 300,000 for the 30-year-old former Manchester City and Norwich striker, who was out of contract, while Barnsley are believed to have offered pounds 100,000.

Kevin Donovan, the 20-year-old Huddersfield midfielder, yesterday became Ossie Ardiles's fourth signing for the Second Division leaders West Bromwich Albion. The clubs have yet to agree a fee for Donovan, who was a free agent.

(Photograph omitted)