Football: Coca-Cola Cup not the real thing

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The Independent Online
COCA-COLA, which has been linked with both the FA Cup and the Premier League, could instead become the next sponsor of the Football League Cup.

The soft drinks manufacturer calling a news conference for Friday to make a 'major football sponsorship announcement' led to speculation that the company was the sponsor the FA Cup had waited 120 years for.

The League Cup's current backer, the high street electrical goods chain Rumbelows, lost pounds 16m in the year to March 1991. When it announced the loss of 800 jobs and a move towards the rental market, the company said it would continue with its football sponsorship, which still has two years to run.

Rumbelows' managing director, Ron Campbell, said yesterday: 'We'd still like to carry on with our sponsorship provided that we can come to a sensible agreement.' That would probably mean reduced income for the League, which has already suffered financially from the loss of the top 22 clubs to the Premier League.

Trevor Phillips, who joined the FA as commercial director from the Football League during the summer, said yesterday that the FA Cup was likely to have a backer this season, but he was 'bemused' by newspaper stories that Coca-Cola would be named as the sponsor later this week.

Bryan Robson, the fitness- jinxed former England captain, will be sidelined for three weeks and misses the start of Manchester United's Premier League campaign after limping off in the 33rd minute of last night's friendly against Celtic at Parkhead with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool could also have two absentees when the season starts. David Burrows is suffering pain in the knee on which he had surgery during the summer, and Mark Walters has a serious calf strain.

England, who open their World Cup qualifying capaign against Norway at Wembley in October, will prepare with a friendly match in Spain on 9 September. On their last visit, five seasons ago, Gary Lineker scored all England's goals in a 4-2 victory.