Last updated : 18 January 2004 By Editor

Rio Ferdinand has been dropped by SFX, the American-owned management company which acts for many of the game’s top stars, following the controversy over his missed drugs test.

The England and Manchester United defender announced last Friday that he would appeal against the eight-month ban given to him by the Football Association just before Christmas for failing to give a sample to testers in September.

Although Ferdinand has agreed to start his ban on Tuesday, the deadline set for him by the FA, his legal team has confirmed he will fight both the verdict and the length of the suspension. By agreeing to start his suspension now the player is hopeful he will see out any reduced ban in time to make Sven-Göran Eriksson’s team for England’s European Championship campaign in Portugal this summer.

But appealing is also likely to increase tension between the FA and officials at United, who have fallen out over the affair.

The controversy has already cost Ferdinand his reputation but last week SFX, which used to manage England captain David Beckham and still counts Michael Owen among its list of top names, confirmed it was dropping Ferdinand.