As the England football squad leaves to begin their World Cup preparations, Carlsberg has announced it will be one of the five main sponsors of the English Football Association's Partners scheme.

The multi-million pound agreement, unveiled today by the English Football Association, sees Carlsberg join Nationwide, Umbro and McDonald's as part of a select group of commercial sponsors.

The new four-year agreement, up to and including, the 2006 World Cup, provides Carlsberg with sponsorship of the England Team and the FA Cup. "In addition, the deal enhances Carlsberg's association at the grassroots of the game with title sponsor of the FA Trophy, FA Vase and Sunday Cup," the beer maker said in a statement.

The new contract commences August 2002 and follows rapidly on the heels of Carlsberg's announcement as first official sponsor of the European Championships in Portugal 2004 and 2008.

"The FA deal is an important part of the jigsaw as we develop our commercial plans for the Carlsberg brand," said Doug Clydesdale, managing director of brands and sales, Carlsberg-Tetley. "Football has been a key driver of Carlsberg's growth in the UK lager market and sales have virtually doubled since Euro '96.  The next step for us is to build a cohesive programme around the Euro Championships, England and the FA Cup and deliver real excitement to customers and consumers. Carlsberg is the fastest growing standard lager and it is major deals like this that will sustain the momentum."

Carlsberg's partnership with the FA provides it with access to the new 'Englandfans' member's scheme, the FA's entire newly created database of two million football players in the form of WONFAS and the FA Football Workforce programme.

The new format of the FA commercial programme will offer all partners perimeter signage at all England and FA Cup matches, alongside a core rights package that includes sole and exclusive display rights, an opportunity to develop premium products, broadcast sponsorship packages, internet rights through official sites and access to stadia for company days.

"These are exciting times for the business and follow on from the successful relaunch of the brand earlier this year," continued Clydesdale.  "With the World Cup only weeks away, we are hoping to recreate some of the success the England sponsorship achieved at Euro 2000 where we saw a 300% increase in sales through Take-Home outlets."