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Tony Formosa • September 05 2004

Sharks and Slappers

In to-day’s sports scene, world-class athletes are immediate celebrities and become millionaires in no time, especially if they hit the limelight during international competitions which are televised to hundreds of countries and viewed by billions. The power of sport as an impressive economic factor is clearly understood not only by the marketing experts, but also by sharks and slappers.
The medal winners of the just concluded Olympiad, especially those who were involved in athletics and swimming events, became heroes and heroines in their own towns and countries, but they were also the targets of big firms which are always ready to fork out seven-figures in contracts for promotional slots.
EURO 2004, which lasted all through the month of June, gave Portugal a lot of mileage, as a tourist attraction, but it also served as a show piece for budding stars, whose faces sell. One of the few shining lights was obviously England’s teenager Wayne Rooney who scored four of England’s tally of ten goals and who became the darling of the media, much to the delight of his agent, the silver-haired Paul Stretford of ProActive Sport Group. Stretford knew all along that he had a hidden treasure once he succeeded to lure the Toxteth lad from John Hyland who previously looked after Wayne Rooney’s interests. The fact that the two agents are currently involved in a court case, comes as no real surprise. Hyland also faces a blackmail trial accused of exhorting money from Stretford. Rooney is the prime witness.
Stardom and brothels
Earlier this week, the former Everton youngster became the most expensive player in British soccer when he signed for Manchester United for £30million. This boy has grown fast. Eight years ago he was Everton’s mascot in a Merseyside derby! In August 2002, Everton’s manager David Moyes, who calls Rooney ‘a street footballer’ roped him in the side that met Tottenham when the lad was only 16! Three months later, he scored his first ever Premiership goal with a last-minute spectacular beauty which shattered Arsenal’s 30-match unbeaten record. Wayne, who combines remarkable skill with a boxer’s strength was on his way to football stardom and seedy brothels.
It was after his football feats in Portugal, that the tabloids reported lurid tales of his off the field activities which started just as he was kicking a ball at Bellfield’s training ground and appearing before thousands at Goodison. Security cameras had caught him and other yuppie-footballers, at the Diva massage parlour, a 24-hour brothel in Aigburth Road, Liverpool, waiting to pick their woman for a £45 spin.
Vice girl Gina McCarrick, 28, a mother of two originally from Birmingham clearly remembers him asking ‘you know who I am?’ while expecting special treatment. 48-year old grannie Patricia Tiernan, who had ten children and who is known as ‘Auld Slapper,’ seemed to be his favourite!
The silly boy of 16 who had just donned Everton’s first team colours, also gave autographs to whores and all! Much to his regrets later. Especially his current live-in fiancée Coleen McLoughin who has learned about his unsavoury tastes.

The price of fame
Strong, big, mature Rooney is well aware that recent revelations tarnished his image and wants to put the past behind him while his new manager, the fatherly-figure Sir Alex Ferguson, who calls Man U ‘as the biggest club with the biggest profile’ relies on the experienced team mates in the dressing-room to ensure that the Toxteth lad behaves.
He will also have two SAS-trained minders behind his back. Rooney accepts the fact that playing for Manchester United, means that he will be under greater scrutiny. The writer clearly remembers the immortal Sir Matt Busby during a coaching seminar held in Klosters, Switzerland, telling him: ‘I do not know whether Man U is the biggest club in the world, but I can assure you that we have all the priests in UK as our unofficial scouts, and that’s not bad going!’
Busby also had his hands full with players like the genius Georgie Bell and his never ending list of smashing girls.
Wayne Rooney will be a fool if he is tempted to return to his old red-light haunts and messy private life. As he makes his short move from Merseyside to Manchester, he must leave Liverpool, his brothels, and fast food behind him, not to mention a few other undesirables.
It’s the price of fame.

Agent’s make a bomb
Rooney will always be a target for the media. He has football vision beyond his years and so far he has already broken a few records. He made history by becoming the youngest England player at 17 years 111 days.
England’s EURO 2004 adventure may be remembered as Wayne Rooney’s extravaganza if not for Eriksson’s team exit at the quarter-finals. It was a remarkable coming of age for a pugnacious 18-year old on the international stage. Soon the offers started to roll in, as Paul Stretford prepared his strategies, which were made easier by the fact that Everton had a heavy red bank balance, while the agent also had a few friends from the influential media.
Player-agents have a bad reputation, but not each and everyone of them is an unscrupulous parasite with criminal tendencies ready to sell their grandmothers. They negotiate lucrative contracts on behalf of their clients, while marketing and managing their players’ public image. Paul Stretford and ProActive were accused of using their influence in the media to better their share price and their profit margins.
He did a good job for everyone. MU are happy to pay £30m, Everton agreed to the price, Rooney earned a six-year contract which means a £100k a week within the next months, while Paul Stretford and his Co. will earn £1.5m from the deal!
Not bad going, especially when one considers that the fulcrum centres on an 18 year old ‘street footballer’ from Liverpool 8!

The rest to follow
Rooney’s six-year contract will be followed by the flooding of sponsors to top his weekly wage and to make him an icon in the Beckham mould. He will also have all his moves monitored and will not have to ask ‘do you know who I am?’ but will be tempted by women who will not necessarily be named Monica Lewinsky, Rebecca Loos, Farai Alam or Ulrika Jonsson and the rest whose relationships with famous men not only brought them fun, but boosted their bank balances. Their international scandals meant money for advertisers, television stations, news anchors, the lot.
A scandal story is a commodity and while the media made a lot of money from human weaknesses and celebrities’ involvement, the sharks and the slappers will also make lucrative interview deals with tabloid newspapers and television networks. One hopes that Wayne Rooney has learnt his lesson.
If not, he is advised to read Bill Clinton’s autobiography, or better still have a serious conversation with his England colleague David Beckham or his manager Sven Eriksson.






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