Keegan to sue over gambling allegations

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Kevin Keegan is to sue the News of the World newspaper over allegations that gambling was rife within the England camp during his reign.

Kevin Keegan is to sue the News of the World newspaper over allegations that gambling was rife within the England camp during his reign.

Keegan, who has maintained a silence since resigning last month, has started legal proceedings.

He is seeking a full retraction and apology over an article last weekend which made claims about his alleged role in gambling among players.

The story suggested a players' betting 'pool' amounted to as much as £40,000.

It is likely Keegan would call England players to give evidence if proceedings reach court.

The development came as Football Association chief executive Adam Crozier attempted to call a halt to the slights being made on Keegan's reign by declaring that his support for him had never wavered.

He insisted that any suggestions he had been "bad-mouthing" the former Newcastle boss were "preposterous".

Keegan welcomed Crozier's comments in a statement released by his firm of solicitors, Peter Carter-Ruck and partners, in the light of the newspaper article.

The statement said: "Mr Keegan utterly refutes the allegations and is determined to take whatever action may be necessary to defend his reputation.

"A letter has been sent to the News of the World by Peter Carter-Ruck and partners today in advance of legal action against the newspaper."

It added: "Mr Keegan would like to record his thanks to Adam Crozier and everyone at the Football Association for their wholehearted support of him at all times."

Crozier, as well as executive director David Davies and other FA figures, had earlier become concerned that the governing body had been accused in some quarters of starting the recent inquest into Keegan's reign.

Crozier admitted last week that the players "could be closer", and has since been blamed by players' chief Gordon Taylor and Keegan's former strike partner Mick Channon for attempting to discredit the former England coach.

But while the FA chief executive should surely have been more careful with his comments, he is adamant that he was not directly, or deliberately, critical of Keegan.

Crozier declared himself to be as supportive of Keegan now as he had been when he consistently backed him in the past and then tried to persuade him to stay on as England coach after last month's defeat against Germany.

He said: "There has been a lot of exaggeration of events over the past few days and we wish Kevin nothing but the best at this difficult time.

"I am lucky enough to consider myself a friend of Kevin's having been through some difficult times together.

"The idea that I would now go round bad-mouthing him is preposterous. Everyone here at the FA is very supportive of him and we will continue to support him in the future."

When asked if there were factions in the England camp, Crozier replied at last week's briefing that the players "could be closer together and that's undoubtedly one of the jobs for the new coaches to pull them together".

Asked later whether he had heard this from sources inside the squad, he added: "Yes, from people who were in the camp itself.

"I wouldn't want to over-egg that but if you're looking for areas of improvement, it's got to be the job of the new coach to really put all of that together."

Crozier did not mention Keegan by name, use the word "divisions" or discuss gambling by players.

And while the phrase "could be closer" was ill-judged if he did not want to be seen as criticising a coach whose strongest asset was said to be generating squad spirit, it was not a case of him launching an attack on Keegan.

An FA statement added: "Following recent reports regarding Kevin Keegan's reign as England coach, the FA wishes to make its position clear.

"At the time of Kevin's departure, Adam Crozier, the FA chief executive, stated very clearly his admiration for Kevin as a man and as a coach.

"Whilst we are of course disappointed at the way in which Kevin's time with us ended, there was - and is - no question of our opinion changing with regards to Kevin.

"The FA could not have been more supportive of Kevin during his time, as was well known by all of his staff and his players. We remain supportive of him and any suggestion otherwise is very unfair.

"The fact that we are looking to improve certain aspects of the set-up and that we positively state the attributes of our new coach and his support team of coaches does not reflect on what we think of Kevin or his team.

"They are different people who will approach the job in their way in a set-up which is radically different to what existed before."

While Keegan was in charge the England squad was reported to be the happiest it had been for some time under an expert in motivation.