CITY DIARY

Buckingham Palace seems to have caught sports fever. Three weeks ago the Old-Fashioned Football Shirt Company, a Gateshead-based retailer of specialised sportswear, received a request from the royal residence for a catalogue.

Last week the order came in. It was for an extra-large, 100 per cent cotton replica of the 1958 Brazilian colours Pele wore at the famous World Cup match. The pounds 33.99 costs, including postage and packaging, were met with a cheque written out by the palace's central stores department, which purchases items for the family and staff.

Speculation on the ultimate wearer of the elegant garment has focused on the Duke of Edinburgh who, unlike his son, who could not tell the difference between Manchester United and Everton at this month's FA Cup Final, is old enough to remember the 1958 match being played.

The Brazilian shirt is clearly proving a bit of hot item. Only last Christmas the five-year-old company received a request from Cherie Booth, wife of the Labour leader, for a similar shirt (although in the 1970 colours). The purchase was a gift for their son, Euan.

Victor Ubogu may have had a tough game against Argentina's tough pack in last Saturday's closely-fought match, but he can look forward to a warm welcome from the City when he returns at the end of the World Cup. For I hear that Liberty Eurasia, the securities trading house, are courting the beefy Bath prop. Talks are also under way with his fellow Bath player, Steve Ojomoh.

Places are apparently being reserved for the players on the repo desk where, it is said, contacts count for more than brain-power. Executives at Liberty are very excited at the prospect of the appointment.

"Our clients, many of whom played rugby at school, love meeting the players," said one of the managers at Liberty. "They are also very useful at getting served at a crowded bar."

The British Gas annual meeting today is proving a great draw for all sorts of peculiar characters. Mingling among the representatives of pensioners, shareholders, Scottish nationalists and environmentalists will be Ken Livingstone, the recently appointed board-member of London Zoo and, more famously, MP for Brent East.

He is representing the complaints of a group from the New York City pension fund whom he met through his work for the Labour Committee for Ireland.

Richard Giordano, British Gas chairman, will have reason to take personally the appointment of Mr Livingstone to air their complaints. Mr Giordano studied at Columbia University in New York, worked there as a young lawyer and retains membership of the local yacht club. He might have expected more loyalty from his mother City.

B J Cunningham, the exotically dressed young entrepreneur behind Death cigarettes, is not letting his defeat at the High Court last week get him down.

He reportedly spent the weekend tidying up his bedroom, which had fallen into a terrible state during his recent pounds 150,000 court battle and, following the example of Private Eye's banana fund, is now raising pounds 105,000 to fund an appeal. "We are calling it the David and Goliath appeal," he says.

If he loses the appeal, Mr Cunningham is expecting to take a very long holiday. "I have no other plans," he says.

David Asper is taking his bid for the Channel 5 franchise very earnestly. When the round of bids took place in 1992 the process was so full of leaks and skulduggery one senior television executive confessed he knew what his competitors were bidding long before the deadline. This time Asper, a former-lawyer in Canada and heir to his father's media fortune, is taking no chances. Details of his business plan are securely stored in a vast green safe which dominates his spartan Covent Garden office. Asper opens it with a tiny key he keeps close to his heart.

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