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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 15:15 GMT 16:15 UK
NI get sponsorship boost
Strikers Andy Smith (centre) and Gary Hamilton (left) at the announcement
The two-year deal is believed to be in worth the region of 200,000
Northern Ireland's recent improvement has helped secure a two-year sponsorship deal for the national side with the Nationwide Building society.

The deal is believed to be worth in the region of 200,000 for the Irish Football Association.

The link-up begins on 1 August and will run to the end of the 2005/2006 season.

Northern Ireland last week unveiled a new playing strip and announced gear and sponsorship deals with Umbro and JJB Sports.

Lawrie Sanchez's side begin a three-game Caribbean tour against Barbados on Sunday with matches against St Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago following later next week.

The latest sponsorship is in addition to Nationwide's continued support of the Nationwide Irish Cup.

Nationwide's Head of Sports Marketing, Peter Gandolfi said: "We are delighted with the presence we have built in Northern Ireland through football.

"We hope that our support of the Northern Ireland team will enable us to become an even more integral part of the community and the football family."

If we can go into the Poland game on the back of a five-match unbeaten run, it will give us confidence
NI boss Lawrie Sanchez

IFA president Jim Boyce said the deal would provide "much-needed support to the national team".

"This is a ground breaking deal for Northern Ireland," said Boyce.

"Both the Irish FA and Nationwide share the same objectives - good community relations and full commitment to the principle of fair play."

Meanwhile, Lawrie Sanchez says his target for the Caribbean tour is that his team go through the three-match tour unbeaten.

"It's a big ask when you consider that Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago are above us in the world rankings," said Sanchez.

"I want the players to believe they can do something in the World Cup group.

"If we can go into the Poland game on the back of a five-match unbeaten run, it will give us confidence."

Ingham receives NI call up
19 May 04  |  Northern Ireland
Skipper Hughes out of tour
18 May 04  |  Northern Ireland

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