Football: Coca-Cola sign Cup deal

COCA-COLA yesterday completed a pounds 2.25m deal to take over the sponsorship of the Football League Cup from Rumbelows for the next two years, with an option of a further three years after that.

Gordon McKeag, the Football League president, expressed delight that the League had pulled off a deal with one of the world's best known companies, particularly at a time when the Premier League is still struggling to find a sponsor. He said: 'I would not dream of gloating but this does demonstrate that there is a commercial expertise in the Football League that is continuing. I'm not concerned with the problems of the Premier League.'

McKeag stressed that Rumbelows had not pulled out, but had agreed to give way to Coca-Cola. 'Coca-Cola approached us and we recognised the chance of a long-term dynamic association,' he said.

The fortunes of Maidstone United took a bizarre turn with yesterday's application by John Waugh, the Newcastle-based businessman who has secured control of the Third Division club, to the Football League for the right to ground-share with Newcastle United.

Waugh, who has promised to pay all the club's creditors in full and bring outstanding salaries up to date, thus averting the immediate threat of bankruptcy, is unlikely to gain the League's agreement. If the plan went ahead, the club's supporters would be faced with a 600-mile round trip at a cost of pounds 72 by rail.

Meanwhile, some of the former Maidstone officials who resigned because of the buy-out are already planning to create a new club to play at London Road, the club's former ground in Maidstone.

The players' union leader Gordon Taylor has warned his members to stay clear of drugs or risk damaging themselves both professionally and physically.

The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, referring to the announcement of positive drug tests on British athletes at the Olympics, said players should keep clean not just to escape punishment from the authorities but also to prevent permanent damage to their bodies.

Manchester City have offered Coventry pounds 1.5m for their Scotland striker, Kevin Gallacher - pounds 1m less than the asking price.

Gary Bannister, the former England Under-21 striker given a free transfer by West Bromwich Albion, is joining Nottingham Forest on a month's trial.

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