A police force has launched an investigation into Premier League stars being targeted by traffic cops – after it emerged Stoke City boss Mark Hughes was pulled over twice in 24 hours by MISTAKE.
Officials from the Midlands club have complained after their manager and three of his players were stopped before their New Year’s Day clash against Everton.
And today, it emerged Manchester United legend Hughes and the trio of stars were pulled over by police at the same location a day earlier on New Year’s Eve.
The foursome were stopped by officers from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPH) at junction 15 of the M6 as they made their way to Stoke City’s Clayton Wood training ground.
It is believed Welshman Hughes – who had not committed any offence – was stopped after the company car he was driving was flagged up by police technology for possible motoring offences.
But bungling officers failed to correct the details on his car and he was stopped again 24 hours later on New Year’s Day.
Speaking on Friday, the manager said: “It’s one of those things. The police have a job to do and that is what they were doing.”
It is thought the three Stoke City players stopped along with their manager were foreign stars Wilson Palacios, Steven Nzonzi and Maurice Edu over the two days.
Police revealed two of the three drivers may face court action for ‘driving licence matters’ but refused to identify them by name.
It emerged Staffordshire Police have ordered their own investigation into what happened
Deputy Chief Constable Jane Sawyers said: “We have been reviewing the circumstances, and we have started to understand more details about how a number of individuals associated with Stoke City were stopped by police.
“It is unusual for a number of vehicles to have been stopped in this way, and we are now conducting an investigation.
“It appears that information held about one of the vehicles hadn’t been updated as we would have expected which resulted in Stoke City’s manager being stopped in error.”
Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis added: “I am satisfied that the circumstances are more complex than at first sight.
“While officers acted appropriately and found that traffic offences may have been committed by two individuals it has become clear now that there may be internal policing issues that require further explanation.”
Pplice were forced to deny that the Premier League stars had been deliberately targeted.
By a source in the force said officers are actively trying to catch footballers for possible motoring offences.
They added: “The players were targeted because they all travel at around the same time to the same place so police know where they are going to be.”
AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said: “Foreign drivers don’t have any excuse for not obeying the rules and if they are resident in the UK they can only use their own country’s licence for six months.”
The controversy didn’t seem to affect the Premier League as they beat Leicester City 2-1 in the FA Cup Third Round on Saturday.
Kenwyne Jones and Charlie Adam steered Stoke safely into the hat for the fourth round draw before David Nugent grabbed a late consolation for the Championship high-flyers.
* In 2009, former Stoke City striker Ricardo Fuller was fined £115 for driving without a correct licence after being stopped by police near the club’s training ground.