The Government's new sports minister has suggested Derby County should consider changing Wayne Rooney's shirt number after branding the club "crafty" over the deal's gambling firm links.
In his first briefing to journalists, Nigel Adams expressed concerns at the involvement of 32Red in helping the club sign the former England captain. He joins a Church of England bishop, the former minister who launched Britain's current gambling laws and a host of campaigners in questioning whether Rooney should be allowed to take the number 32 shirt as part of an apparent tie-in with the online casino.
"It's a bit crafty," Adams said, explaining that he "totally" understands the recent outrage. "I've seen the impact that problem gambling can have - the authorities are very clear with guidelines in terms of what can and can't appear particularly on youngsters' shirts," he said. "They have their guidelines so I would urge the clubs to abide by not just the spirit but the rules of what the Gambling Commission and the FA have laid down."
When asked whether Derby should now change Rooney's shirt number when he completes his move from DC United in January, Adams added: "It's a matter for Derby. I would ask them to look within themselves and think about the impact that problem gambling can have on some in society, particularly vulnerable people and youngsters as well. They have got a social responsibility to be mature and grown up."
Advertising standards sources suggested the decision to give Rooney the 32 shirt in association with the betting firm could be interpreted by the FA as a potential breach in the rules. Derby can only be approached by the governing body after Rooney takes the field in January, and the promotion effectively becomes live. The FA is understood to be aware and monitoring the situation.
Adams was speaking at Commonwealth Games media launch at Edgbaston. As the Telegraph disclosed on Tuesday, Birmingham in 2022 will become the first major multi-sport event to have a majority of women's medal competitions. Women's T20 cricket, beach volleyball and para table tennis has been formally accepted by the 71 Commonwealth Games Associations.
The minister said he will maintain the Government's commitment to improving women's participation in grass-roots. "Participation is a key driver for me," he said.
He went on to say the UK's thriving sector was "hugely important" as Britain prepares for Brexit. Adams's major concern in football is the plight of League One Bury, who have less than two weeks to address financial problems if they are to avoid expulsion from the English Football League. Adams said fresh scrutiny of bad ownership of clubs was "on my agenda" because "frankly the outcome is that people are being denied football in their communities".
"It is desperately sad that a club like Bury have these issues," he said. "It is incredibly sad that their fans have been denied football at the start of the season. And it is incredibly difficult for the clubs that were meant to be playing them as well. But the FA have to put their foot down. They have to make sure that clubs are financially stable and they can pay their creditors. So it is a very tough call for the FA. And of course for a government it causes us concern that these clubs are in this mess."
In contrast, Adams believed the Premier League is in rude health, and clubs will have no problem signing players from Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit. "I don't think there will be huge issues around freedom of movement, especially people on Â£150,000-a-week," he added. "The talent pool there will be a pretty clear case. We are going to be leaving, hopefully with a deal, but I don't anticipate huge issues."
Adams said he was thrilled over his new job, explaining he was better at sport than academia as a youngster and was "kicked out" of Selby High School sixth form.
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