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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
New strip for 'BNP' pub team
Tipton Boilers' new strip, sponsored by Magnetic Jewellers.Com
Tipton Boilers' new strip bears no "political message"
A pub football team in the home town of three Muslim terror suspects held by the US is to replace its British National Party-sponsored strip.

The Tipton Boilers have already played two games in the red, white and blue strip emblazoned with the logo of the far-right organisation.

But the Football Association told the team that players were not allowed to wear any strip bearing a political message.

Tipton Boilers' BNP-sponsored strip
The BNP strip caused no offence, the team manager claimed
An Asian businessman has now made a new strip for the team, who are based at the Lagoon pub in the West Midlands town of Princes End.

George Singh, director of Wolverhampton company Magneticjewellers.com, said he had "no problem" with the team and did not want the players to have to give up their football.

The team, who play for Sandwell Premier and District Sunday Football League, hope to wear the new strip for their next match - against Khalsa Sports at Tipton on Sunday.

'Racism lark'

Earlier, the BNP denied the sponsorship deal was aimed at stirring up racial tension in the town, insisting the team had approached the party for funding.


[The BNP strip] hasn't offended the two teams we've played and one of those had nine black players

Manager Tom Cooksey
But team manager Tom Cooksey said the idea for the controversial strip had come from the BNP.

He added that he was baffled that the issue had generated so much publicity.

"We had a seven-year-old kit which was tatty and ripped," he said. "When the BNP offered to buy us a new strip we took it gratefully.

"I haven't got a clue where all this racism lark comes from.

"It hasn't offended the two teams we've played and one of those had nine black players.

"At the end of the day when the whistle goes, it's just 22 players trying to play football."

Poverty

ThreeTipton men - Shafiq Rasul, 24, Asif Iqbal, 20 and Ruhal Ahmed, 20 - are being held by the US in a high security Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.

Other men from the West Midlands town have been reported to be missing in Afghanistan.

Tipton is a multi-cultural community with a number of social problems such as unemployment and poverty.

The BNP gained 24% of the vote in the Tipton Green ward in the May 2000 local elections - although in the 2002 vote it polled only 334 votes.


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See also:

10 Sep 02 | England
17 Aug 02 | England
11 Jul 02 | England
01 Feb 02 | England
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