Many of Manchester United's millionaire superstars have been banned from accepting free luxury sports cars as part of a lifestyle crackdown from hardline manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The English Premier League club recently completed a lucrative sponsorship deal with car giant Chevrolet that will kick into place in two years time and will see the company's logo featured on United's club jerseys.
As part of the arrangement, Chevrolet has immediately offered the United squad free choice of its fleet of high-end vehicles. Several, including veteran Ryan Giggs, whose love of fast and expensive cars has been well documented, are expected to opt for top-of-the-range Corvettes.
However, only players above the age of 23 will be allowed to accept sports-car models, as Ferguson attempts to ensure his young squad members do not fall into the lifestyle traps that have disrupted many a promising career.
Daily Mail journalist Ian Ladyman revealed that younger players will have to check with Ferguson and receive the all clear before making their car selection.
"This means players such as young striker Danny Welbeck, 21, and defenders Phil Jones, 20, Chris Smalling, 22, and Rafael, 22, will be banned from driving anything not approved by Ferguson," wrote Ladyman.
The move could cause a little friction in the Old Trafford locker room as Welbeck, Jones and Rafael, despite their tender age, are all considered vital and senior members of the first team.
Yet Ferguson remains unapologetic over his stance and is adamant that maintaining tight controls over the lives of his less-experienced stars is necessary to enable them to fulfill their potential.
Whereas some other clubs prefer a more laid back approach, every element of a United player's life, especially in their early years with the club, is taken care of. United even employs a team of assistants who are on call at any time of day or night to fix any issue that arises with a player or a member of their family. Everything from new home insurance to a blocked toilet can be taken care of with a single call.
Ferguson has maintained strict discipline ever since his initial years as a manager and with players now earning more than ever before sees no reason to change that policy. As well as the perils of driving a sports car at excessive speed, he does not want his players attracting more attention than necessary when out and about in Manchester.
Last season, Ferguson banned youth team players from wearing different colored cleats, even though soccer footwear now rarely comes in the traditional black color of the past.
More than a decade ago he told then-trainee Ronnie Wallwork he would personally shave him with a knife if he didn't immediately remove long sideburns Wallwork had grown in honor of 1990s pop icons Oasis, a true story that has taken on mythical status at the club's training ground.
United is determined to regain its EPL crown from local rival Manchester City, to whom it surrendered the title on the final day of last season. It has made a mixed start this time around despite the addition of new striker Robin Van Persie from Arsenal, losing its opener at Everton before bouncing back with a home victory over Fulham.
The prospect of a free car will do little to console star forward Wayne Rooney, though, with the England international expected to miss up to two months after suffering a horrific gash to his leg in the Fulham clash.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Manchester United