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Fergie: Wayne rap a cop out

Alex Ferguson has dismissed police claims Wayne Rooney would have been arrested if his four-letter outburst to a TV camera at West Ham last week had taken place on the streets.

Rooney began a two-match suspension when he missed United's Premier League encounter with Fulham today. The 25-year-old will also sit out United's FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Wembley next weekend.

Superintendent Mark Payne, responsible for managing responses to crime and operations in Wolverhampton, courted controversy by claiming in his blog Rooney would have been arrested on the street.

Ferguson viewed it as opportunism of the worst kind. "There is an issue in the modern world of a need to be noticed," he said.

"There is a wee guy, sitting down there in the midlands, probably never been recognised in his life, maybe people don't know he's there, who has managed to elevate himself to whatever it is in the police force.


"But I refuse to believe that in the middle of Wolverhampton on a Saturday night his police get abuse and those people are always arrested.

"Now he is saying they will. Wolverhampton will be an interesting place on a Saturday night."

There was sympathy for referee Lee Mason who took charge of the game and whom Ferguson felt was pressurised by the Football Association.

He said: "The one I feel sorry for is Lee Mason. He has put himself in a terrible position.

"He has been put under pressure. There is no doubt about that.

"It is hard to imagine the referee would send a player off for scoring a hat-trick.

"But he has now put himself in the spotlight. If he doesn't send a player off for swearing the question will be, has he got double standards?

"It is a very difficult position the lad is in. I feel for him. I really do. I don't know where his career is going to go now."


Ferguson was also scathing about Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, whose announcement last week he was going to demand more respect for officials from players appeared to be the trigger for the FA action.

"They have changed track midway through the season," said Ferguson.

"Everyone should know where they are at the start of the season, but that's not the case now and it is a problem.

"They have yearly meetings all the managers have to attend -- the league, the FA disciplinary and the referees are all there -- and various points are put out. But to do it midstream like this seems a bit stupid."

Meanwhile, former United star Gary Neville believes the FA might have caused a problem for themselves.

"The FA are very reactive and very inconsistent with their reactions," he said.

"There is no rule in place that says swearing on camera brings you a two-match ban. This week, they have created one.

"Now they must make sure they continue that moving forward.

"Everybody caught swearing on camera will have to be banned for two matches."