Eidos signs Michael Owen

MICHAEL OWEN, England's World Cup star, has cashed in on his growing popularity by signing up to promote football games for computer games group Eidos in a deal that could be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. The teenage Liverpool striker has been brought in to endorse a new version of World League Soccer due in the shops by Christmas.

Eidos chief executive Charles Cornwall said the company had signed Owen in an exclusive deal stretching over several years. Although he refused to comment on how much the footballer was receiving, industry experts said the deal, which is likely to be linked to game sales, would be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Michael Owen may also promote Eidos' other football products that include the popular Championship Manager.

The news came as Eidos reported a pre-tax loss of pounds 2.3m against pounds 8.6m in the same period of last year, with turnover soaring 175 per cent to pounds 25.8m.

Eidos shares, which have fallen sharply in recent months, jumped 25p to close at 707p.

Eidos, best known for Tomb Raider, is planning to release Tomb Raider 3 at Christmas.But Mr Cornwall insisted Eidos was no longer a one-product company, pointing to other successful games, like Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines, with Ninja and Shadow of Darkness planned for later this year.

Mr Cornwall said: "It's safe to say we are always looking at things," when asked about persistent acquisition rumours.Observers suggest Eidos has been looking at Psygnosis, the games development group put up for sale by its Japanese owners Sony, and Rage Software, the quoted UK group.