Belfast Telegraph

England coaches will escape boot in Wayne Rooney booze row

By Ian Herbert

The Football Association is not planning to dismiss members of Gareth Southgate's coaching staff after images were taken of them with Wayne Rooney during a drinking session, 24 hours after the 3-0 win over Scotland.

Backroom staff appeared to have been present with Rooney at a wedding party at the team base and though it is yet to be established whether they, too, were drinking, the governing body's chief executive Martin Glenn has taken a dim view.

"Why on earth would you be doing that given there is a team agreement around alcohol consumption during camp?" he said. "There [will] be questions asked for sure."

But the FA's approach is to ascertain the facts about last Saturday night and to make them part of the FA debrief which takes place next week at St George's Park - rather than play 'judge and jury' and make it a full-blown investigation.

When the full facts are known, new rules will be put in place governing the way that players spend their spare time during future England internationals.

The controversy surrounding Rooney's conduct entered a third day yesterday when images were published by The Sun of the Manchester United forward playing a piano on the evening in question, seemingly with as many as five members of the coaching and support staff grouped around it, plus Everton defender Phil Jagielka.

Though Rooney's piano playing was said to be poor, there was no photographic evidence of him taking a drink to the musical instrument - or of any of the others drinking while he played.

The FA - whose communications director Amanda Docherty has left the organisation after 11 months having not found it the role she anticipated - has been trying to keep the episode in perspective.

The governing body has been keen to emphasise that their inquiries do not amount to an "investigation", though Glenn did use that word when door-stepped by Sky Sports yesterday. Rooney has issued an apology for the impression created by the photographs.

"Don't make a drama out of it. We are having a proper investigation into what went on. It's disappointing,' Glenn said.

"It's appropriate that he apologised. It doesn't set a great tone for the England captain but I don't want to over-dramatise it either. 'Were there FA staff involved? We're establishing the facts."

"We're talking to people who were there to find out if any backroom staff were involved."

Glenn also confirmed on Thursday that Southgate had informed him that he wanted the manager's role permanently. Though it has been an open secret for the past two weeks that he is the only contender, it is likely to be two weeks before his appointment is confirmed.

Southgate said there were "lots of changes we made to routines" under his interim management, but the rules governing players' spare time are understood not to have changed since Roy Hodgson left the national team in July.

Since the players had been instrumental in establishing the parameters for their spare time, there was a desire to stick with them out of respect to the squad.

In the past, the squad would be sent back to their families if there was a four-day break between games but the additional sports science introduced to aid recovery now means that they remain together.

• FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the FA and Scottish FA for the wearing of poppies during last week's World Cup qualifier.

The associations defied FIFA on Armistice Day as players wore embroidered poppies on black armbands, after football's world governing body said the act fell under the commercial, personal, political or religious messages that it has banned.

FIFA announced that the FA and SFA faced action last night with both facing the possibility of a fine, while even a World Cup points deduction is possible.

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