Budweiser Signs Int'l Players For Wembley FC To Play in FA Cup, Viewed As PR Stunt
Budweiser has "risked a potential PR own goal by signing a string of former internationals to play for Wembley FC," the non-league side it backs, in next season's FA Cup, which it also sponsors, according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The Football Association, which receives an estimated £24M ($37.4M) from Budweiser over three years to sponsor the world's oldest knockout competition, said that the U.S. company had not broken any rules but "stressed the Wembley FC stunt did not have anything to do with its own arrangement with the brand." After signing Terry Venables earlier this season as a technical adviser for the club, which plays in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties Football League, "it has now unveiled six former internationals who have promised to come out of retirement to play in the FA Cup." The former England players Ray Parlour, Martin Keown and Graeme Le Saux, the Argentinian Claudio Caniggia and the American striker Brian McBride have all signed. The former Arsenal and England No. 1 David Seaman has also come on board as the new goalkeeping coach. The "PR stunt has already drawn criticism from fans of other non-league clubs, who perceive it as unfair." Budweiser has a track record of using "a similar strategy in other sports that it sponsors in the U.S. and elsewhere" (GUARDIAN 6/21).