Monday, March 29, 2010

It's The Sun what won it!

Embargoed until 1st April 2010

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and News International Ltd (NIL) are delighted to announce a new long term partnership to the benefit of cricket. NIL has agreed to provide generous financial support to the ECB for the next five years in return for an exclusive sponsorship arrangement for the England cricket team.

With effect from mid 2010 the England team will be renamed the “Sky England” team and the shirts of the players will carry the “SkyBet” emblem and the slogan:

It matters more when there's money on it!

The ECB is pleased to welcome Mr James Murdoch onto its Board to take up the position of Joint Chairman with Giles Clarke. Mr Murdoch, who is Australian, said at the launch of the new initiative that “Sky is delighted further to cement its relationship with the ECB and hopes to bring a good dose of Aussie pragmatism and endeavour to sharpen up England’s cricket prior to The Ashes 2010/2011. The last thing sponsors and advertisers down under want is another bunch of Pom no-hopers like last time - so we’ll all be working together to try and put England in a position to at least draw one of the Test matches.”

The ECB and NIL have also announced an exciting new domestic competition for 2010. To be called “The Sun Ten10” this will be a new ten over per side knockout cup for the Counties. Explaining the reasoning Giles Clarke said “As the name suggests this is aimed particularly at sports fans for whom the attention span required for the longer form of the game (Twenty20) is a bit too long”. There will be plenty of innovations to make this the most exciting form of the game yet. After the “Power Play” over there will be the “Sun Play” over umpired by two Page three ladies and the innings climax will involve a lucky Sun reader bowling the final over. Each ball will provide a betting opportunity with the odds (“3-1 he hits a sixer”) being announced in the ground and with live betting online and on TV.

The ECB and NIL have also announced the creation of a “Cricket Heritage” department at the University of Essex under the direction of Times correspondent Michael Atherton. James Murdoch explains “Athers will be looking to establish a fully sustainable cricket research and study centre with the highest standards of Corporate Social Responsibility and which will protect the image and reputation of the game far better than that effete lot at the MCC are able to do. The true greats of the game will be immortalised at the university including the “Shane Warne Research Centre into cricket language” and the “Hansie Cronje Department of match result management”.

Giles Clarke added “We are often erroneously criticised for not caring about the heritage and history of the game. This centre will, for example, have a resource about the greats of the past - like David Bradman and Fred Hobbs - as well as lots of old stuff about the cricket games they played in the past – like Test Matches and County cricket.”

Guest speaker at the launch Shadow (for the moment!) Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson, said “I’m sure that in years no come the ties between the ECB and NIL will become even stronger. A future Conservative Government (I feel emboldened to say the future Conservative Government!) will stand foursquare behind both of these great institutions who share a common goal in favour of free enterprise not in empty free-to-air enterprise! Indeed in years to come I’m sure that as England moves on from triumph to triumph it will be true to say (as it will surely be for me in a few weeks time!) ‘It was The Sun what won it!’”

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