Facebook denies 'bizarre' England sponsorship speculation

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The Independent Football

Facebook has denied reports that it is in advanced talks with the Football Association about becoming the new major sponsor of the England team.

The social networking website was reportedly one of four companies pitching for the contract, as English football's governing body hopes to replace its £20 million deal with Nationwide.

The building society is set to discontinue its backing at the end of this month after withdrawing an offer tabled to the FA before the World Cup.

Telecommunication giants 02 and Orange, along with banking group Santander, were named as the others on the shortlist, but Facebook has categorically denied that it is in talks with the FA and labelled the speculation as "bizarre".

In a statement released to The Sport Briefing, it said: "Facebook is not in talks with the England football team regarding sponsorship."

A spokesperson added: "I don't know where it has come from but it is not true. It's bizarre.

"We obviously work with lots of different brands and the FA have used the Facebook platform and the England team have a page.

"We've obviously been talking to them about those sorts of things, just like any other brand."

Facebook is one of several blue chip companies that have moved to end the speculation linking it with becoming new England team sponsor.

02, one of those reportedly on the FA's four-company shortlist, told The Sport Briefing that it is "complete speculation" and reiterated that "we are not in talks".

Supermarket chains Morrisons and Sainsbury's also played down speculation that they could fill the void.

A spokesman for the former, an official partner of England's bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, insisted that "it is just rumour and speculation".

Meanwhile, Sainsbury's - a former official supermarket of the England national team - refused to comment on the speculation and insisted that it was "concentrating on Paralympic sponsorship for London 2012 rather than anything else".