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.

News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Bruce, left, with Cream bandmates Ginger Rogers, centre, and Eric Clapton in 1967
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker