After incidents involving footballers Darren Bent (see here) and Ryan Babel, the current Premiership champions have wasted no time in ensuring that nothing as embarrassing happens to them.
In a statement on its official website, Manchester United said: “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.”
Although a report by epltalk.com revealed that members of the team had been tweeting, accounts have been removed for Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Darren Fletcher, and Wes Brown's Facebook account has also been removed.
However this is a shrewd move by Sir Alex Ferguson and the corporate communications team at Old Trafford. Liverpool and Netherlands striker Babel wrote on his Twitter page about his frustration at being left out of the Liverpool squad. He said: “I never had a fight with the manager. I always kept quiet. Where did it go wrong? You have people who support me and don't support me and one day, you will see what I'm capable of. Will it be at LFC or somewhere else? — I have faith.”
Former Tottenham and now Sunderland striker Bent has felt the wrath of the football press, who labelled him a ‘twit' for his outburst last year, and although he had a promising start to the season, he is among those likely to be left at home for the world cup by England this summer.
Manchester United has now limited the opportunity for players speaking out of line, and embarrassing the club in the media. I suspect that other clubs will follow suit, and this could spin into sensitive businesses too.
The only shame in this is the fact that the likes of Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Carrick will not be able to publicly rue their decisions to abandon White Hart Lane, but let's wait for the next social networking site to take off, and see how savvy Manchester United is when that takes off.