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Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has signed a new 12-month rolling contract with the Premiership champions.

The Old Trafford club has been stalked by controversy in recent weeks with Ferguson and major shareholder John Magnier involved in a bitter dispute over stud rights to racehorse Rock of Gibraltar.

There had been rumours that this argument along with several newspaper reports questioning the club’s transfer dealings could see Ferguson forced out of his position as manager.

This new contract that expires on June 30, 2005 with a rolling open-ended option to extend, puts an end to such speculation. However, the decision to offer Ferguson a one-year rolling contract could be interpreted as a victory for Magnier as the United manager was seeking a four-year deal.

“We came up with the idea for a one year rolling contract when discussions first commenced in the summer of 2003,” said chief executive David Gill.

“Because we believe it reflects our total confidence in the manager and also reduces speculation about his possible retirement date.

“His fantastic record with Manchester United speaks for itself and his apetite for the game and his desire to build a new generation of world class players at Old Trafford is undiminished.

“He has the board’s 100 per cent support.” Ferguson revealed his delight at signing the new deal and his desire to squash all rumours of his possible departure from Manchester United.

“I’m very happy with the new contractual arrangements,” he said.

“It gives me strong focus on the short term challenges in the new season ahead as well as the long term freedom to look to improve our current squad and to win trophies both domestically and in Europe.

“I believe we have a very strong squad with a nucleus of young and talented players as well as excellent prospects in our academy, and that will give us an excellent foundation for success over future years.”

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