LONDON (AP) – The father and uncle of Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney were arrested Thursday as part of an investigation into betting irregularities at a Scottish Premier League football match.
Rooney’s 48-year-old father, who is also named Wayne, and 54-year-old uncle Richie Rooney were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud along with seven other men. All nine men were released later in the afternoon on police bail until January pending further inquiries.
“Mr. Rooney vigorously denies all of these allegations,” Rooney’s solicitor, Anthony Barnfather, said in a statement. “We are co-operating fully with the investigation. No further comment will be made at this time.”
The younger Wayne Rooney has not been implicated in the investigation, which focuses on Motherwell’s home match against Hearts at Fir Park on Dec. 14. Motherwell lost 2-1.
As his father was arrested, Rooney was heading to Montenegro for a European Championship qualifying match on Friday.
“I spoke to (Rooney) and I found him relaxed and calm,” England coach Fabio Capello said. “No problems for the game tomorrow against Montenegro.”
England captain John Terry said Rooney had his mind on the match, with the team needing at least draw to guarantee a spot at Euro 2012.
“Wayne’s focused on the game tomorrow. We all realize the importance of that,” Terry said. “As I’ve said before, it’s important for him to go out and play his football, which he loves doing.
“Tomorrow’s game is the most important thing and we all realize that and appreciate how difficult the game is going to be.”
One of those detained was Motherwell midfielder Steve Jennings, who played in the match and was given a straight red card with eight minutes remaining for disputing a penalty decision. Jennings had earlier been booked.
The betting investigation centers around a player receiving a red card in the match.
“Detectives have today executed warrants at 10 addresses across Merseyside and Glasgow and arrested nine men as part of an investigation into suspicious betting activity,” Merseyside police said in a statement. “The arrests are the culmination of a joint operation with the Gambling Commission.”
It has been reported that several bets were placed on there being a red card in the match, including a bet of 500 pounds ($765) placed through a new account opened in Liverpool at odds of 10-1.
The 26-year-old Jennings joined Motherwell in 2009 from Tranmere, a team based in Liverpool.
Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan said the arrests were the result of “extensive enquiries” into suspicious betting patterns. He also said the SFA is working with the police and the Gambling Commission.
“I am confident that Scottish football is doing everything it can to take any betting irregularities out of the game,” Regan said. “There is no evidence to suggest that any other match has been involved.”