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August 25, 2002 | 1256 IST

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England agree to play in ICC Champions Trophy

England's players have agreed to sign contracts to play in next month's ICC Champions Trophy following a sponsorship row surrounding the event, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on Saturday.

"The resolution of this matter will see the best available England team participating in this tournament," the ECB said in a statement, adding that the players had agreed to play in Sri Lanka as long as the International Cricket Council (ICC), the sport's world governing body, agreed to meet players before signing future sponsorship deals.

England had been one of several sides threatening to boycott the event. India remain the one team still to be persuaded to sign the contracts. The Board of Control for Cricket in India has selected a provisional expanded squad of 25 "probables" in case their top players refuse to take part.

The row centred on an ICC demand that players taking part in their tournaments agree not to represent firms clashing with official event sponsors. The measure, backed by national cricket boards, was drafted to stop those rival firms of launching "ambush marketing" campaigns to coincide with major tournaments.

The players, though, argued that the contract clause infringed their commercial rights and would conflict with their existing sponsorships. Top Indian players, in particular, like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, can make millions of dollars from personal endorsements.

The Champions Trophy, staged every two years, is the only limited-overs tournament outside the World Cup which attracts all 10 Test-playing nations.

The ICC signed a $550 million sponsorship, broadcasting and marketing deal with the Global Cricket Corporation in 2000, to run until 2007.

Cricket's most famous case of "ambush marketing" came in the 1996 World Cup in the sub-continent, when Pepsi fought back against Coca Cola -- an official sponsor -- by flying huge air-balloons with their logo on the edge of match venues.

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