The father and uncle of Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney were arrested yesterday on suspicion of taking part in an alleged betting scam.
Wayne Rooney senior (below) was detained at his home in Liverpool as a part of a police operation that also involved the arrest of Steve Jennings, a Motherwell midfielder whose sending off during a match last year against the Edinburgh side Hearts sparked an investigation into suspicious betting patterns.
Nine people were held for suspected fraud in Liverpool and Glasgow.
Jennings (26), who as a teenager played alongside England striker Rooney while they were youth players at Everton, received a red card in the closing stages of the match last December on the same day that a £500 bet was placed on a sending off during the same fixture from a newly opened account in Liverpool. The wager at odds of 10/1 would have yielded £5,500.
Merseyside Police and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) insisted that the nine-month investigation was restricted to the single match between Motherwell and Hearts and did not involve other fixtures in the Scottish Premier League or the English game, including the Premiership.
The arrests threatened to cast a shadow over Rooney's preparations for tonight's European qualifier for England against Montenegro. Manager Fabio Capello insisted that the striker was “relaxed” and unfazed.
Wayne Rooney snr (48), and his brother Richie (54), who runs a boxing club, and Jennings, who was arrested at his Glasgow home, were released on police bail after being held for eight hours on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.
Before his red card, Steve Jennings was seen to angrily approach referee Stevie O'Reilly after a penalty appeal was turned down, allegedly asking him when he was going to stop “cheating” Motherwell and gripping him on the arm.
Under game rules, insulting or improper behaviour to a match official results in an automatic sending off.