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Thursday, August 5, 1999 Published at 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK


The Cat who got the cream

Gary Hocking: "It's not going to change me, changing my name"

Most football teams strike big money sponsorship deals with major companies.

But in Australia - one player has taken product placement to a new level.

The BBC's Michael Peschardt: "The claws are out in a bizarre commercial fight"
The captain of the Geelong Cats - an Aussie Rules football team - has changed his name to Whiskas, after the cat food.

The deal is worth between 100,000 and 200,000 to the cash-strapped club. The company also said it would also make "generous" donation to Geelong Animal Welfare Centre.

[ image: Name of the game: The deed poll shows the name change]
Name of the game: The deed poll shows the name change
Gary Hocking - now known as Whiskas - said: " I see it as a great thing for the footy club and Whiskas.

"It is just a light-hearted thing and from a commercial point of view to help get the club out of strife."

He added: "It's not going to change me, changing my name."

However, the sport's governing body, the Australian Football League, continues to list Whiskas under his original name, saying the name change threatened to bring the game into disrepute.

And the hackles have risen elsewhere. Lee Matthews from the Brisbane Lions said: "To me it just seems to be a bit unsavoury changing your name by deed poll for commercial reasons."

Listen to Michael Peschardt's report
But Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said: "When Whiskas approached me with this proposal I actually had a giggle.

"I think we need to treat it in a lighthearted way. It's not a serious issue."

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