Football: FA to sell the family silver

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The Independent Online
THE FA Cup, one of the last great sporting events to remain unsponsored, is up for sale. Wembley and the Football Association yesterday announced a marketing agreement which it is hoped will raise pounds 25m in sponsorship over the next four years. The FA Cup is expected to account for up to half that figure.

Mark McCormack's International Management Group has been appointed to find up to 12 sponsors. All FA events at Wembley, including England internationals, will be available for sponsorship.

The deal for the FA Cup will include sponsorship of the semi-finals but it it does not mean that the competition is to be renamed. Paul Smith, a spokesman for IMG's football division, said: 'It will be called the FA Cup in association with . . .'

The FA, contracted to play matches at Wembley until at least the year 2002, has been looking for a sponsor of the FA Cup for several years but until now had been hampered by the fact that Wembley had control of perimeter and programme advertising. The joint marketing programme, titled 'Total Football', ends years of wrangling between the FA and Wembley, who will now pool their existing separate commercial rights.

Each of the 12 sponsors will have exclusivity in their own product category and will acquire a basic package of rights including perimeter advertising, tickets and hospitality, programme advertising and promotional benefits. Coca-Cola, Peugeot and Citizen Watches, who have current agreements with either Wembley or the FA, will be three of the 12 sponsors, while Guinness and Lucozade are among companies who can expect to be approached by IMG.

Trevor Phillips, the FA's commercial director, said: 'This will bring financial stability to our activities. It is important for the FA to generate further revenue, which we will be investing in the game.

'We have spent a lot of time negotiating this agreement and designing Total Football. We are not rushing into it and we will be seeking appropriate partners.'

The Total Football programme starts in January 1995, although sponsorship of the FA Cup is available immediately.

Peter Johnson has overcome the final obstacle in his bid to buy Everton. Johnson has been given Football League approval to transfer his controlling interest in Tranmere Rovers to the club's chief executive, Frank Corfe.

Billy Ayre has resigned after three and a half years as manager of Blackpool.