England to wave the flag for £4m

On the basis that if it moves on a football field, someone, somewhere, ought to slap an advertising logo on it, the England team yesterday followed the path to Mammon by signing a £4m sponsorship deal.

Although virtually everything in the game has succumbed to the lure of cash in recent years, the national team - give or take an Admiral kit or two - had remained above such things.

Until yesterday that is, when at a slightly subdued and chaotic press conference at Old Trafford, it was announced that until 1998, the words England and the name of their new sponsors, Green Flag, are likely to become as synonymous as the team was with a white flag under Graham Taylor.

In return for their £4m investment, the company will have its logo emblazoned on England's training kit and track suits, it will sponsor internationals at Wembley and pay bonuses for the players in games during Euro '96 and through to the next World Cup.

All of which, of course, prompts the natural question: what is Green Flag and why did the Football Association sell the England team to a company very few had heard of?

It may be a vehicle, home, and medical assistance company on a broader front, but its most renowned component is National Breakdown, and even an international team boasting Paul Gascoigne would have been holding itself hostage to ridicule with that emblazoned on its training gear.

In accepting the deal, England's football team is following in the well-worn corporate footsteps of the national cricket (Tetley Bitter and Whittingdales) and rugby union (Scrumpy Jack and Courage) teams.

Since 1981, football's sponsorship bandwagon has seen the League Cup disappear under a multitude of monikers, the springing up of a long line of Auto Windscreens Shields, and other esoterically named cup competitions and even, last September, the FA Cup

lose its titular virginity in a deal with Littlewoods Pools.

"It is easy to say the FA and players should have gone with a better-known company," Trevor Phillips, the FA's commercial director, said of yesterday's deal, "but Green Flag's credentials and ambitions impressed everyone and they are a British company. Nobody had heard of Cornhill Insurance when they came into cricket."

So Green Flag it is, and there were Andy Cole, Paul Ince, John Barnes, Ian Wright and Gary Pallister standing sheepishly on the Manchester United pitch, holding an appropriately coloured standard for the photographers.

Perhaps someone should have pointed out the incongruity of Cole's appearance, as he has yet to win a full England cap, sponsored or otherwise, but when you have just been transferred for a British record fee of £7m, such trifles are probably irrelevant.

After all, money talks. The Football Association knows that better than anyone.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Application Support Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company has a fantastic opportunity for a...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £150,000

£60000 - £150000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you looking to take your ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Exciting career prospect for ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935