One by one the players are pulling out of the poker game for the title sponsorship of Britain's top soccer competition, the Premier League.

Seemingly the stakes have been raised too high for Pepsico, the latest player to quit the table, following incumbent sponsor, Bass-owned lager brand Carling [WAMN: 4-Jan-01] , and Budweiser [WAMN: 1-Feb-01] .

Two steely-nerved pokerists remain in the game, their identity unrevealed, although the smart money is on Coca-Cola. The league, anxious to shed soccer’s 'lager and lads' image, is eager to sign a non-alcohol sponsor.

World interest in English soccer has grown dramatically over the past few years. When the Premier League – known in Britain as ‘The Premiership’ – was launched in 1995, its matches were televised in just twenty-seven other countries. This season it is seen in 127 nations

News source: Financial Times