Football: Coca-Cola set to sponsor FA Cup

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The Independent Online
THE FA CUP, English football's senior knock-out competition which has survived for 120 years without commercial backing, is set to be sponsored for the next five seasons by Coca-Cola.

The deal, reportedly worth pounds 20m to the Football Association, would be augmented by pounds 1m-a-year deals with three other companies. The agreement is expected to cover the entire tournament from the qualifying rounds in August to the final at Wembley in May.

The American soft-drinks firm is expected to make an official announcement in London on Friday, and the FA's press officer, David Bloomfield, said: 'I cannot confirm the deal but it sounds as though it may be correct.'

Meanwhile, the Premier League's advertising hoarding still has a 'For Hire' sign on it though the League's chief executive, Rick Parry, hopes to revive one of the two pounds 10m deals turned down by club chairmen on Monday because of sponsorship conflict. The League's secretary, Mike Foster, said: 'Rick is keen to resurrect one of the deals.'

Both the companies competing for the role of main sponsor, the brewers, Bass, and the Ford Motor Company, are willing to try again, so Parry may summon chairmen to an extraordinary general meeting before the season starts on 15 August and ask one or both of the companies to make a presentation. Some Premier League clubs already have deals with rivals of both the bidders.

Peter Beagrie's inability to agree personal terms with Southampton means that Everton must await the transfer tribunal's judgement on the price of bringing the Welsh international midfield player Barry Horne to Goodison Park from The Dell.

Beagrie, valued at pounds 700,000, was to have played the role of counterweight in an exchange deal between the Premier League clubs, but the winger withdrew after fruitless talks with the Southampton manager, Ian Branfoot.

Newcastle, by contrast, avoided involvement with the tribunal by reaching agreement with another South coast club, First Division Portsmouth, on a fee of pounds 650,000 for John Beresford.

The completion of Beresford's transfer back to the North removed lingering uncertainty over the immediate future of the former Barnsley player.

Having advertised his abilities through the medium of Portsmouth's FA Cup run last season, the defender had looked set to move to Anfield but Liverpool backed out after a medical.

Beresford then had talks with Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea before deciding to join Newcastle.