Football Museum unable to bid for Sir Alf's collection

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The Independent Online

The National Football Museum attacked the growing auction market in sports memorabilia yesterday, as it admitted it will be unable to bid for the private collection of the man who led the national side to World Cup victory in 1966.

According to Sir Alf Ramsey's family, it was his wish before his death in April last year that the souvenirs he had accumulated during his career as a player and as England manager would be sold for the enjoyment of others.

Yesterday, the unique relics of England's greatest period in the domestic and international arena, went on display at Christie's in London, prior to their auction next month.

But news of the sale has come as a blow to the National Football Museum in Preston, Lancashire. Because of rules surrounding grant applications, it could not register a bid to buy the items with Heritage Lottery Fund money.

A spokesman for the museum said: "It's unfortunate. Something we have been trying to get across to people is that they should stop and think.

"Collections like these are incredibly important to the history of the country and are of cultural significance. It needs to be protected for everyone's benefit.

"We are always looking for benefactors, or at least people to loan items to us. We'd love to get all the objects we can.

"We'd like these things to be for everyone's enjoyment rather than disappear, never to be seen again. Hopefully a football fan rather than investor will buy these items and think of us."

Placing items in a museum would also enable artefacts to be cared for in the right conditions, ensuring they would last as long as possible.

Estimates for Sir Alf's souvenirs start at £250. Christie's sports specialist, David Convery, said: "There are enough items in the sale that the average person could come and buy one of these medals."

Sir Alf's collection is almost bereft of souvenirs documenting the World Cup win. Managers received no special accolades for the prize, and the only lots in the sale relating to that famous day in 1966 are a menu card, a replica cup, an unused ticket, ticket stubs and a programme.

But Sir Alf, who was nicknamed "The General", was awarded the BBC Sportsview Team of the Year Trophy in 1966, estimated to fetch upwards of £3,000, and a silver salver from the Anglo-American Sporting Club.

Medals from Sir Alf's 300 appearances as a Tottenham player will also be in the sale, which is expected to fetch at least £50,000 at the auction on 27 September.

A Christie's spokesman said: "The figure is a conservative estimate because the market for football memorabilia is growing all the time. A lot of people will want to share in the history of a man regarded as a real gentleman."

A sale in March dedicated to goalkeeper Gordon Banks broke all records paid for football memorabilia, when his England medal fetched £120,000.

Shirts worn by England striker Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks will also be auctioned, along with a pair of boots worn by the current England captain, David Beckham.