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Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 13:16 GMT
Drinks giants eye Premiership deal
Some of the Manchester United team with the Premiership trophy
The new sponsor will be more visible than present sponsor Carling
The global drinks giants Budweiser, Pepsi and Coca-Cola are reported to have joined the race to sponsor English football's Premiership.

The deal is likely to double the amount paid by current sponsor Carling, according to the Financial Times.

The newspaper said the next three-year sponsorship deal would generate 60m ($90m) for the league - twice the sum paid by lager brand Carling for its contract of the same duration which expires at the end of the current season.

A deal is also thought to be close for the sale of overseas television rights for the league to a consortium comprising TWI, France's Canal Plus and the Rupert Murdoch-controlled Fox television network.

The value of the new contract is likely to be substantially higher than the 100m TWI and Canal Plus paid for the rights three years ago, the newspaper said.

Growing overseas appeal

The rising price of sponsoring and televising the league reflects growing overseas interest in English football.

This has come partly from an increasing influx of foreign players to English clubs who are often cheaper for clubs to buy than comparable British players.

As well as many Europeans, top English clubs now have players from countries such as China, Iran, Morocco and Saudi Arabia on their books.

Increased product merchandising has also raised the international profile - and profitability - of clubs such as Manchester United.

More visible sponsor

Analysts said the league's new sponsor will be more visible than Carling because of changes to broadcasting arrangements for next season.

More games are due to be televised while a regular highlights programme is moving to ITV from the BBC, bringing the potential for advertising cross-promotion.

Individual clubs will also soon be allowed to broadcast clips of goals on their own websites.

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