CITY DIARY

Now that the big money boys are pouring their hard-earned cash into their favourite clubs - viz Mathew Harding, chairman of the Benfield Group, a generous pounds 24m injection into Chelsea - the new commercialism being applied to the world of football is attracting fierce competition to sign up sponsorship deals with the FA Premier League. The latest company on the ball is the fast-food eateries - or "quick-service restaurant" as it likes to be known - McDonald's. The "have a nice day" burger chain has just been awarded "official restaurant" status by the FA Premier League for pounds 1.75m. Drive-through football is probably some way off but balls with your burgers is not out of the question.

The rate of employment churn continues to pick up among the London- based securities houses. Credit Lyonnais Laing is cock-a-hoop about pipping its rivals to its latest recruit as it moves towards its goal of principal agency house in town. Nick Spearing, 38, who resigned as head of sales at James Capel in June, has decided to take up Credit Lyonnais's offer to head sales and become deputy to the chief executive, Michael Kerr-Dineen.

Mr Spearing is said to have considered more than just a few offers on his table before plumping for the boys at Credit Lyonnais.

No doubt the move will cause more than a ripple in the market. As Mr Kerr-Dineen put it: "Our agency broking flag is very firmly pinned to the mast". Mr Spearing no doubt is the drawing pin it was seeking.

The belief that the age of the languorous City lunch washed down with several bottles of wine on a daily basis is over may be more perceived than real. A survey by the City arm of the worldwide contract catering company Compass indicates that FTLs - fast-track lunches - are boasted about, but not adhered to.

The survey reveals that the average time for lunch is now just under one hour 45 minutes but some companies still deem a good two-and-a-half hours essential for wining and dining, during which most manage an average of between 2.4 and four glasses of wine. Only one company surveyed admitted FTLs of just 45 minutes.

Most claim they don't eat puddings, because they have a starter, but 70 per cent admit to dipping into the petit fours with their coffee.

Given that up to a third of executives arrive late for lunch, those in line for an FTL obviously subsist on a lettuce leaf or two and a chocolate truffle.

Not content to leak water across the region, Yorkshire Water has taken to flooding of a different kind - inundating its customers with severe reminders of the hosepipe ban. But yet again its database seems to have done it no favours. The company, which once called its customers "culturally ignorant", has managed to send out the mail-shots to water customers other than its own. Residents of York, many of whom are served by the independent water company York Waterworks, have been at the receiving end of the missive. York Waterworks has no shortage of water and no hosepipe ban.

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