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Man Utd imposes social networking ban

Football club rules Facebook and Twitter offside

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Manchester United has banned its players from using social networking websites.

In a statement, the football club claimed none of its stars had ever used sites such as Twitter or Facebook and that all player news was communicated via its official website, ManUtd.com.

The club wishes to make it clear that no Manchester United players maintain personal profiles on social networking websites.

Fans encountering any web pages purporting to be written by United players should treat them with extreme scepticism.

However EPL-Talk.com reports that, contrary to this statement, Man Utd has actively shut down social networking profiles used by several stars.

Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher profiles on Twitter were given the red card. A Facebook account run by defender Wes Brown was also taken down, while Facebook walls for Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand were wiped, EPL-Talk reports.

Control freakery and a desire to prevent players making comments on social networking websites that are picked up by the media seems to be behind the clampdown. Tabloid newspapers would no doubt be keen to glean the latest on manager Alex Ferguson's infamous hairdryer-style rants, for example. In fairness, the club may also be trying to end the confusion caused by messages from imposters using fake profiles.

Nonetheless, Utd's draconian social media ban comes across as the high-tech equivalent of banning staff from talking to reporters on sensitive matters. The club clearly fears that issues such as the club's rocky finances - despite on-pitch success and the record transfer fee for last season's sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid - might be raised in public.

Other premiership clubs have a more enlightened attitude to social media. For example, Sunderland striker Darren Bent has built up a cult following on Twitter, with around 30,000 followers. Recently, Bent said he was "150% committed to the cause" after a weekend 7-2 mauling of Sunderland by Premiership front-runners Chelsea.

Bent has embraced Twitter to the extent he's added his dbthetruth Twitter ID to his matchday boots, as pictured here.

Although most of Bent's frequent Tweets involve harmless banter, he did annoy his previous employer Tottenham Hotspur by going public with his frustration at the protracted nature of transfer negotiations to Sunderland last summer.

More recently, Liverpool forward Ryan Babel criticised boss Rafael Benitez for dropping him from last weekend's game at Stoke, sparking reports that the two might be on a collision course. ®

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