Football: Barclays pull out

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BARCLAYS will close its Football League account at the end of the season. After six years, during which it has put pounds 11.5m into the game, the bank has decided not to renew its sponsorship when the current arrangement ends in May.

Bill Gordon, managing director of Barclays banking division, said yesterday that the business objectives of their investment in football had been achieved. 'We have been delighted with our football involvement and our partnership with the Football League in establishing the single most successful sports sponsorship in the UK to date,' he said.

Gordon McKeag, the League's president, put on a brave face when confronting the need to find a new backer during the recession. 'I am confident that the range, quality and popularity of League football presents an unrivalled opportunity for a blue-chip sponsor and I feel sure that the void will soon be filled,' he said.

McKeag thanked Barclays for standing by the League after the top 22 clubs had left to join the FA Premier League. 'It is typical of the bank's attitude that they have continued to support us during this difficult season and that they have given us the earliest possible notice of their decision, to enable us to negotiate a new sponsorship deal for next season.'

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