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England flops to cost UK economy £1bn

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley will be one of the big losers should Michael Owen and England fail to qualify for Euro2008.

The Daily Express says the English economy stands to lose a staggering £1billion in extra revenue if Steve McClaren's England team fail to qualify for next summer's European Championship finals.

According to the British Retail Consortium, around £1.25bn was spent in the UK as a result of last year's World Cup and fans will keep at least half of that money in their pockets if England are not part of Euro 2008.

Ashley will be one of the biggest losers. His Sports Direct company have already ordered all their unofficial merchandise and had planned to buy in excess of one million official England shirts from Umbro.

"It would be disastrous if England don't qualify," said a source close to Ashley. "The order to Umbro would be cut by up to 80 per cent and it would cost the company tens of millions of pounds in lost revenue.

"A quarter of the store becomes an England shop during a major tournament and we sell everything; shirts, car packs, flags and wigs. We would be one of the worst affected if England are knocked out."

Daniel Pearce, managing editor of the Publican magazine, claimed England's absence from the finals would be "devastating" and would cost the pub industry alone about £100m.

"Tournaments such as Euro 2008 are a massive pull for pubs, especially during this age of challenging trading constraints with the recent smoking ban," he said.

"It would be devastating for the industry if England failed to get through and pubs would be forced to look for other opportunities to attract the customers during the tournament. For the World Cup, pubs sold an extra 59m pints, resulting in an additional income of £188m.

"If England were not in the championships then at least 50 per cent of that income would be lost."

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