The Football Association will no longer give England players nights off during international breaks after Wayne Rooney was photographed socialising late on Saturday night. The FA and interim manager Gareth Southgate have changed their guidelines about players’ time off, ending the possibility of whole nights off for the rest of the squad, following the story which forced Rooney into a public apology last night.
The FA were very disappointed with the fact that the England captain was photographed out drinking late on Saturday night, the night after the England captain played as England beat Scotland 3-0 at Wembley, not least because of the people Rooney was photographed with. The FA warned Rooney as to his future conduct, although there will be no sanctions beyond that, and will tell every other England player that he cannot be seen in the same situation.
“England personnel have a responsibility to behave appropriately at all times,” said an FA statement yesterday afternoon. “We will be reviewing our policy around free time while on international duty.”
That review had led to a major re-think of England players’ spare time arrangements, as Southgate tries to impose himself on the England set-up. While players will not be kept under constant supervision, they are likelier in future to be granted a few free hours to play golf or see their families, rather than been whole nights off. No-one at the FA, not least Southgate, wants to see a repeat of the Rooney situation ever again.
Rooney apologised to Southgate and FA technical director Dan Ashworth yesterday, but the story raises further questions about the footballing future of the England captain. He has lost his place for both England and Manchester United this season and is no longer an assured starter for either. This particular incident has certainly not impressed the people who his international future depends on.
“Naturally Wayne is sorry that pictures taken with fans have been published,“ said a statement from Rooney’s management. ”Although it was a day off for the whole squad and staff, he fully recognises that the images are inappropriate for someone in his position.”
“Earlier today Wayne spoke privately to both Gareth Southgate and Dan Ashworth to unreservedly apologise. He would like to further extend that apology to any young fans who have seen these pictures.”
Southgate confirmed on Tuesday night that the free-time arrangements on England duty were under review. “The players over the last few years have been allowed to go home during a period of time,” Southgate said. “They trained on Saturday morning and again on Sunday afternoon and I gave the players a period of time off. Obviousy I would have to review it. There were lots of changes we made to routines. Some things we felt we should keep the same, some things would have to be reviewed.”