|Bookmakers William Hill revealed that they had been 'inundated' with calls to place bets on an Internet rumour concerning David Beckham.|
However, Beckham has denied the rumour.
William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe told the Daily Mirror newspaper: 'We have received scores of requests.' But, he added: 'We have no intention of taking bets of that nature.'
E-mail users around the UK and beyond have been circulating claims about the Manchester United star which first appeared on a web site a couple of weeks ago. But in a statement Thursday, Beckham’s spokeswoman denied the rumours and said that repeating the rumours could result in legal action.
The spokeswoman said: 'We are aware that there are malicious rumours circulating in the media about David Beckham.
'There is absolutely no truth whatsoever in these rumours and the web site we believe to be the source of these rumours has been contacted and all defamatory material has been removed.
'No publication of these rumours should be made as it would result in legal liability for defamation.'
The website is believed to refer to Popbitch, the gossip site that has provided a steady flow of celebrity stories to the tabloids over the last two and a half years.
At present, even if a website or internet service provider removes a defamatory statement as soon as they are notified, they still face the prospect of legal action - although the swiftness with which they acted will be taken into account. If a site delays in removing a defamatory posting, even on its public message boards, then the site and the ISP that hosts it can both be sued.
Aware of the speed with which gossip can mushroom thanks to the proliferation of email and the web, organisations and celebrities are increasingly taking the unusual step of denying stories that have not been published in print but are widely known thanks to the internet.
Last week Manchester City football club was forced to issue a statement denying that Kevin Keegan was set to quit as manager after rumours of his departure swept the web.