Rovers riled by United’s Jones poach

Blackburn have sensationally accused Manchester United of approaching Phil Jones without permission, but ruled out further action.On Monday, Rovers agreed in principle to a reported 16.5-million-pound fee to part with Jones, who is away with the England under-21 squad in Denmark for the European Championships.

On his return, the 19-year-old is expected to sign a five-year deal at Old Trafford, where he will be groomed to form United’s future defensive partnership with 21-year-old Chris Smalling.

Talks between the two clubs appeared cordial on the surface, however Blackburn have since revealed their suspicion that United were ‘tapping up’ Jones months before they were granted permission.

Anuradha Desai, chairperson of Ewood Park owners Venky’s Group, said the club considered making a complaint to the English Premier League but were talked out of it by manager Steve Kean.

“We have reasons to believe that the player’s agent and maybe the player had been in touch (with United) for two-to-three months before permission was granted,” Desai told the Mail on Sunday.

“I was ready to take Manchester United on, ready to go to a tribunal if that’s what it led to. But we spoke at length to Steve Kean and we knew Phil wanted to go to United.”

“We concluded that the person who would be most damaged by a delay and legal action was Phil. That wasn’t fair on him.”

Despite their anger at United, Desai insisted the club hope for nothing but the best for Jones.

“We wish Phil well,” Desai said. “Phil is an outstanding young English player and I’m proud of the role Blackburn played in developing him.”

“We made him an enormous offer to stay with us and we wanted to keep him.”

Jones’ agent, John Colquhoun, stopped short of denying any impropriety on United’s behalf, saying: “I won’t be coming on the confidential process that was undertaken.”

“Everyone is telling me they’re happy with what went on so, unless I hear different and unless I’ve got questions to answer, I don’t feel I have to comment.”