The prospect of a Five Nations Cup, involving Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic, moved closer today as the Irish FA clinched a lucrative new sponsorship deal with car manufacturer Vauxhall.
The deal could earn the IFA up to £5million over the next three and a half years with spin-offs from shirt sales and other commercial activities, including television rights from a revived version of the old Home International tournament.
Vauxhall have already announced sponsorship agreements with England and Wales over the past two days with Scotland to follow.
Company chiefs were at Windsor Park today to seal the deal with Irish FA chiefs, led by President Jim Shaw and Chief Executive Patrick Nelson.
The question of the Home series returning obviously came up after several days back on the news agenda. and with Northern Ireland set to kick off the new Carling Nations Cup with Scotland, Wales and the Republic next month.
England’s FA are cool on an annual tournament on the lines of the age-old series that ended in 1984 with Northern Ireland the holders, but they have hinted at a one-off in 2013 as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations.
That could see England join the Carling Cup line-up with games played at Dubin’s Aviva stadium where Northern Ireland face Scotland on February 9.
“Everyone loved the old end of season Home Internationals and it would be fantastic to see all the countries competing again. I say competing because these games are more than just friendlies,” said IFA President Shaw.