Fortune 'poach' claim

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Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson face further embarrassment over their dealings with the manager's son, Jason Ferguson, and his Elite Sports company after a South African agent alleged that the agency "poached" United's South African international Quinton Fortune from him.

Colin Gie, who was once a close friend of Fortune's as well as his advisor, is currently suing the United midfielder for loss of earnings after claiming that Fortune abruptly ended their relationship and became an Elite client. The player is contesting the action.

Gie maintains that in July 2002 Fortune asked him to attend to negotiations with United over a new contract. According to his version of events - which he has promised to back up with written and video evidence once the court case, scheduled to take place in Cape Town in August, begins - the player ignored him without giving any explanation when he arrived in England.

Fortune subsequently signed a three-year deal with the Old Trafford club. He was last night named in the BBC3 documentary Fergie And Son, which will be repeated tonight on BBC2, as one of 13 United players on Elite's books.

Gie said: "People need to know the truth. I was with Quinton for 14 years but within two days the whole world changed. I have a personal management agreement with him and if he doesn't want to keep it, we can reach a settlement."

United announced on Tuesday that they will no longer use Elite, of which Jason Ferguson remains a director, because of "external concern" over possible conflicts of interest.

Calls from The Independent seeking Elite's comments on the allegations went unanswered yesterday.

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