|The furor over the gambling habits of the UKís top footballers rumbles on, with the Professional Footballers' Association adding their support for controls on betting among top players. Last week, Manchester Unitedís striker Ruud Van Nistelroy admitted that players could afford to lose large sums of money in card games because their 'wages are astronomical'.|
However, the PFA deputy chief executive, Mark McGuire, said it 'was not healthy' for teammates to lose large sums of money to each other in card games.
'Gambling is a big danger,' he said. 'With drugs or alcohol there's random testing - it isn't quite as easy to test for gambling problems. Players have, historically, gambled. When I was a player in the Seventies there were card schools and debts can mount up. It's nothing new.
'But some of the young players today are earning big bucks and have lots of time on their hands. It isn't healthy when one player owes a teammate a lot of money. It may only be a week's wages but it's still a massive amount of money.'
A spokesman for United said their players played cards to pass the time on away trips and bet 'genuinely small amounts'. But details of the amounts lost by other Premiership footballers would suggests that the stakes for top players are often a lot higher. Chelsea striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, for example, recently admitted losing £400,000 ($615,200) in casinos. Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has gambled around £1.1 million ($1,691,800) at casinos, losing £169,400 ($260,537) in two years.
The Chelsea striker is one of a number of footballers named in a News of the World report on footballers' gambling. The newspaper says his teammate Jesper Gronkjaer has spent £112,330 ($172,763), Kieron Dyer has lost £18, 420 ($28,329) and Paul Gascoigne has wasted £11, 420 ($17,563).
The Football Association has also confirmed that no action would be taken against Liverpool and England striker Michael Owen over allegations that he had gambled on Premiership and Champions League matches.
The Sunday Mirror reported that Owen, using accounts registered in the name of his father, Terry, had placed bets totaling more than £2 million ($3,076,000)on football matches and horse racing.
He has backed Manchester United to win games in Europe and Chelsea to win Premiership matches, the newspaper said.
However, the FA said that no rules had been broken as none of the alleged bets were on matches that involved his own club.