Last updated : 25 January 2006 By Editor
From the Guardian:

News International has not finished making trouble for the Football Association by a long way. Thanks to a series of legal battles pending in the civil courts Rupert Murdoch's empire will present a significant distraction to England's World Cup campaign until the eve of the competition.

Disputed recent allegations made in the News International papers the News of the World and the Sun mean the England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, captain David Beckham and star man Wayne Rooney are all due to face the two red tops in court as the World Cup approaches

Eriksson is claiming breach of confidence over the fake-sheikh fiasco and Beckham is suing the Sun for claiming his marriage to Victoria is a sham sustained only for commercial purposes. Most intriguing, however, are two cases involving Rooney.

The Manchester United striker is suing the Sun for claiming that he hit his girlfriend Coleen McLoughlin, and though his advisers are confident of victory an unrelated libel action against the paper could complicate matters.

Patricia Tierney from Merseyside is suing the Sun for claiming that she is a prostitute who had sex with Rooney at the Divas massage parlour in Liverpool. Tierney, 50, says she is a receptionist at the establishment and may call Rooney to give evidence, something that would be hugely embarrassing and difficult for him to avoid.

Last week Tierney's hearing was shifted from Liverpool to Manchester to give the Sun a fair hearing. Whether any of these cases get to court or are settled behind closed doors remains to be seen, but all will represent significant diversions on the road to Germany.