The Football League is launching a new cup competition for children under eleven.  The new competition will give more than 20,000 children across the country the opportunity to emulate their football heroes.

The Football League BT Community Cup is sponsored by BT, the networked IT company.  It will give boys and girls a unique chance to represent their school at a prestigious Football League Final, as well as on their local League club’s home ground.

The BT Community Cup will begin later this month.  Each Football League club will be able to stage the local qualifying matches between schools in its area.  The local final will be played at the club’s home ground prior to a first team fixture.  The winning school will then go on to represent the club in the regional stages of the competition.  These will be organised divisionally in line with each club’s status in The Football League.

The three National Finals of the BT Community Cup will be played on the pitch prior to the Coca-Cola Football League Play-Off Finals in May.  This will give every young competitor the opportunity to realise a dream by playing at a prestigious showpiece occasion.

This initiative is the latest to flow from The League’s re-branding and is aimed at getting more young people to watch football.  It follows closely on the heels of the launch of ‘Fans of the Future’, which saw more than half of League clubs commit to offering free entry to young supporters.

In welcoming the launch of the BT Community Cup Football League Chairman, Lord Mawhinney said:

“The Football League is committed to building its clubs’ fan bases for the future.  This was one of the pillars on which our re-branding of The League was based.  We are working hard to strengthen the links between our clubs and their communities.

“The BT Community Cup competition is the next stage in this process and I look forward to seeing thousands of schools linking up with their local Football League club to give school children this wonderful opportunity.”

Andy Tipping, General Manager of Wholesale Markets’ BT Contact Venture said:

“We hope the sponsorship of the BT Community Cup will encourage children to take an interest in sport and become involved with a club from an early age, which is in line with BT’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme. We also hope that it will be the first stage in the development of a wider relationship with The Football League.

“It is BT’s intention, through BT Contact, to deploy a range of ‘best practice’ technology solutions to a number of Football League clubs, with the aim to help improve efficiencies in managing and providing data between The Football League and its members whilst also driving benefits to the supporters to increase community spirit and engagement.”

The Football League and BT will also stage a similar competition for girls from the Under-13 age group.  The Football League BT Girls Cup will also begin later this month with the final being played prior to April’s LDV Vans Trophy Final.

The sponsorship of The Community Cup by BT has been recognised by an award under the Government’s Business Sponsorship Incentive Scheme for Sport, ‘Sportsmatch’, which is administered in England by The Institute of Sports Sponsorship.

Note to editors:

BT Contact is a division of the BT Wholesale ventures.  The established ventures unit is responsible for creating a new and tightly focused route to market for innovative new products. 

About BT

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications solutions serving customers in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific.  Its principal activities include networked IT services, local, national and international telecommunications services, and higher-value broadband and internet products and services.

BT consists principally of three lines of business:

•           BT Retail, providing a comprehensive range of communications and related services to more than 20m UK consumers and businesses.

•           BT Wholesale, providing network services and solutions within the UK to more than 600 fixed and mobile operators and service providers including the provision of broadband and private circuits.

•           BT Global Services, providing networked IT services to meet the needs of multi-site organisations globally.  BT Global Services operates in more than 130 countries and also offers international carrier services.

In the year ended 31 March 2005, BT Group’s turnover was £18,623 million with profit before goodwill amortisation, exceptional items and taxation of £2,085 million.

BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt

Further Details:

FOOTBALL LEAGUE
John Nagle
Head of Communications
The Football League
(:0870 443 9283 & 07979 645 416
JNagle@football-league.co.uk

Ian Christon
Communications Executive
The Football League
(:0870 443 9282 & 07900 572 280
IChriston@football-league.co.uk

BT
Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369. All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre.