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Birmingham City football fans with a passion for their national side can show support for both teams after a deal between the club and a local company.

Bedworth-based 4 Club and Country produces a range of shirts made up of one half club shirt and one half international colours.

Now they have signed a deal with Birmingham City – which has already been selling Birmingham City/England shirts for some months – to combine the club's colours with those of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India and Pakistan.

The company – which was launched 15 months ago by businessmen Paul Sullivan, David Charnley and Pete Conway – has already signed a similar deal with Coventry City. Both have a combined worth of over £75,000.

 

Mr Charnley, aged 42, said: "We are delighted with how the shirts have been selling. We have exceeded all the targets in our business plan. So far we have sold over 4,000 shirts and our turnover for the year is expected to be between £150,000 and £200,000."

The company has also put agreements in place with other clubs in the Midlands, including Peterborough United and Northampton Town. Mr Charnley added that the firm was also in talks to supply its shirts, which are manufactured in Poland, to Aston Villa.

4 Club and Country aims to produce shirts for each of the 92 league clubs by February, as well as catering for the non-league market. It is also exploring the possibility of franchising the business.

In addition, a range of Legends shirts – including embroidered signatures of the players – are in the pipeline. These include George Best, Bobby Moore, Peter Osgood and Paul Gascoigne.

The company also plans to expand its product range – including kitbags, pens, watches, wallets, cufflinks and pyjamas – by the end January.

Mr Charnley first had the idea for the product at an England match. He was so convinced of its potential that he left his job in the telecoms industry to build up the business.

Mr Charnley said: "I’m a big Coventry fan and also a very patriotic England fan, but I found that whenever England were playing I’d have to choose which shirt to wear.

"I didn’t like the fact that different shirts created different mentalities, so I decided that it would be a great idea to show support for both."

The biggest hurdle for the firm, he added, was securing the patent rights for the product.

"We had to be extremely careful to make sure that no one could copy our idea, but that we also did not infringe any copyrights owned by the clubs. It took us about six months to go through this process and to make sure that the business model was sound."

As part of this, the company chose to design its national logos.

"We now want to build up the 4 Club and Country brand with these designs," Mr Charnley said.

The company was helped to get off the ground by a £10,000 grant from the Innovation Networks programme – run by Coventry University Enterprises, the commercial arm of Coventry University. The money was used to launch the firm's website.

By Joanna Geary, Enterprise Editor

 

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