FA drops Gary Barlow's official England 2014 World Cup song from starting line-up


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The Independent Culture

When the FA announced that Gary Barlow was to record the official England 2014 World Cup song, the football body hailed the star for gathering an “incredible line-up” of “pop’s finest stars”.

But Barlow no longer appears to be first choice on Roy Hodgson’s team sheet after it emerged that "Greatest Day", featuring the Take That singer, Gary Lineker and 20 celebrities, has been quietly dropped as the nation’s anthem for Brazil.

The song, featuring Michael Owen, Kimberley Walsh and Katy B, was recorded before Barlow was ordered by the High Court to pay back millions of pounds which he sheltered in the £340m Icebreaker tax avoidance scheme.

Barlow’s image as a “national treasure” was tarnished amid calls that he should return his OBE.

With England’s opening game against Italy just a fortnight away, the FA admitted that it now has no plans for Greatest Day to be released as a single.

A video of Greatest Day, which includes vocal contributions from Pixie Lott and Mel C, was made available to download on iTunes during the Sport Relief fundraising effort in March.

It was understood that the song would be released as a single in June to coincide with World Cup fever spreading across England.

A chart-topping single, sung heartily from the stands, would give the team a boost as they embark upon their South American mission.

But the FA appears to have distanced itself from Greatest Day as the big kick-off approaches.

A spokesman said: “Although we have given our endorsement, it is very much their (Comic Relief) production and any release would be managed by them with all proceeds going to their Sport Relief charity.” The FA could not give a “definitive answer” over whether its official song would be released.

A Comic Relief spokesperson told The Independent: “There are currently no plans to release the version of Greatest Day shown on the Sport Relief 2014 night of TV as a single. The video will be available to view on YouTube during the World Cup.”

Greatest Day has not even been selected for The England Players’ Playlist, an official album of “upbeat chart hits and dance anthems” personally hand-picked by Wayne Rooney and his teammates, which is released on Monday.

Even before Barlow’s tax affairs became public, fans gave Barlow’s reworking of Take That’s 2008 hit a thumbs down.

David Baddiel, who sang the landmark 1996 England anthem "Three Lions", described the 2014 effort, which includes contributions from Gary Pallister and Carlton Palmer, as “a bit rubbish”.

Sources suggested there had been some confusion over who owned the rights to the song after Sport Relief. There were hopes that a major record company would step in and release the song as a an iTunes track download before the tournament begins.

The affair may end for good the FA’s endorsement of an official song. Former coach Fabio Capello banned a 2010 England song, saying he wanted to be “fully focused on the football”. An unofficial song, "Shout", featuring James Corden and Dizzie Rascal, reached number one.

With Greatest Day ruled out of the tournament, a number of alternative England anthems are pushing for selection.

"Come on England (Don’t Break My Heart)" by Mansfield fans Mark Estell and Stephen Goalby is already on iTunes. Estell said: “We got the idea to do an England song when we heard Greatest Day, or ‘great dismay’ as we call it. You can’t sing along to it and it’s not motivational.”

Kaiser Chiefs are pushing for their single "Coming Home" to be the soundtrack to the England team’s eventual departure from the tournament, preferably with the trophy.

The Sun newspaper has consigned Barlow’s effort to history and named "I'll Never Find Another You" by London band Dexters as its “official England anthem”.