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The Times

By Russell Kempson

THE England players have settled their future commercial welfare by signing with 1966 Entertainment Ltd, which is part of 19 Entertainment, the company that looks after the interests of David Beckham, the captain, and his wife, Victoria. It will allow them to concentrate on the World Cup finals without any off-the-pitch distractions.

The players of the nine-strong “Team England” committee, which includes Beckham, Gary Neville, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, had been negotiating with three groups. Also pitching for the contract was CSS Stellar, which has represented Team England for 12 years, and the Kraken Group, a sports advisory organisation that has Sven-Göran Eriksson, the England head coach, among its clients.

19 Entertainment is run by Simon Fuller, who launched the Spice Girls and created the global Pop Idol phenomenon on television. It won “unanimous” approval from the players and has agreed a four-year deal from August this year, which will take it up to the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

The agency will deal with the commercial work of the squad that it receives via FA sponsors such as Umbro, McDonald’s and Carlsberg. In exchange for agreeing to use their images to endorse products on behalf of the FA, the players receive a slice of the revenues. The pool can amount to about £4 million a year and is split equally among the squad.

Balancing the sponsors’ ability to use players in promotions without infringing individual image rights has always proved difficult to manage. It is usually accepted that a team endorsement features at least three players but many sponsors have complained that, for what they pay the FA, they do not get enough access to the big names in the England squad.

*England will play a friendly match against Holland at the Amsterdam ArenA on November 15.
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