Umbro backs England with FA £130m kit deal

England football stars will be wearing Umbro-branded kit until at least 2010 as the sportswear manufacturer signs a deal with the Football Association worth an estimated £130m this week.

The eight-year contract, understood to be valued at around £17m a year, will see Umbro become the FA's 'elite' partner in its new commercial line-up.

Other strands of the FA Partners programme, focusing on women's, youth, men's and community football, will receive backers in the next few weeks, with Nationwide, Coca-Cola and Carlsberg among the favourites to secure deals. Sponsors will have shared access to the FA Cup and England teams, as well as exclusive rights to their own 'pillar'.

The deal with the FA gives Umbro a leading role in the development of the body's National Football Centre, which is being built on a 350-acre site in the East Midlands.

The sportswear brand will make use of a special facility to develop products for players of all levels, and is likely to emphasise this leading role in future marketing campaigns.

"This partnership evolves Umbro's role from that of a kit supplier to a genuine partner for the development of the game at all levels,

said Umbro head of marketing and international Martin Prothero.

The deal also provides the FA with an important platform on which to plan future initiatives. "This is an excellent start to FA Partners, which will give us a significant foundation for our investment at all levels of the game,

said FA director of marketing Paul Barber.

Last month, Umbro launched the first fully-reversible England kit, which will be worn by Sven-Goran Eriksson's team at this summer's World Cup Finals in Korea and Japan.

Umbro also has sponsorship deals with the Republic of Ireland national team, Chelsea and Spanish side Celta Vigo, as well as Michael Owen and former England striker Alan Shearer.

News of the Umbro deal comes as the Office of Fair Trading continues its investigation into the sportswear manufacturer over alleged fixing of the retail price of England kit.

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