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Programme History

 
 

The History of the England Programme

In the early days, it was probably always the host club that was responsible for producing the match programmes. It would have just been another edition for their editor. It's unlikely that there would have been any 1954 England v Germany Football Programmeeffort to use any FA or England branding, if any, indeed, existed.

Wembley was geared up more for one-off big events, so their cup finals and internationals developed a common theme in the 1950s. The familiar style of this cover (right), with its aerial view of the stadium, began in 1953.

For the bigger games, such as Hungary's historic visit, flags appeared on the cover (the union flag, of course, for England), but interestingly, for the Scotland games from 1955-61, they added the logos used for the rugby teams, so England had the red rose and Scotland the thistle!

In 1963, for the FA's centenary, the emblem, at last, appeared on the cover, still with aerial views of the stadium, but now different views! Then, for the 1964-65 season, action shots from previous Wembley internationals featured, though, unfortunately, the emblem disappeared, to be replaced by a Tudor rose!

There was a brief revival of the old-style aerial shots in the run-up to the 1966 World Cup (Wembley produced a single programme for the final only, now highly valued, of course), but after the tournament, as World Champions, we were now indulged with the emblem again (for some games)!Programme against Portugal 1969

These programmes were all 6x9 inches, but in December 1968, a larger size (6.75x10 inches) was introduced, and a great opportunity to double the price to two shillings! Twelve months later, the first colour action shot appeared on the cover and this was the style that was to prevail until 1977 (about half of them included the emblem on the cover).

From 1977, there was a lot more freedom in the design of the covers, but the new Wembley logo was a major part and the Three Lions emblem rarely appeared (only v. Argentina in 1980 and Ireland in 1985). Styled themes were introduced for each of the games in a qualifying competition. In 1980, Wembley switched to a new printer and the programmes were very slightly smaller (6.5x9.75 inches), presumably chopping off the margins. The size then increased drastically, in 1985, to roughly 8.25x11.75 inches (approximately 21x29.5cm), only to return, briefly, to the previous size at the beginning of the 1986-87 season, but then reverted back to the large size, though now with glossy covers, from 1987 onwards. A small emblem appeared throughout 1988 for the FA's 125th anniversary, but the Three Lions only appeared intermittently over the next few years as Wembley tried out a few different printers.

With England's hosting of Euro '96 coming up, that was the point when the FA first began to take over the marketing of the England brand.

In 1995, the FA acquired their first team sponsor; vehicle rescue company, Green Flag. They were to sponsor all Wembley friendly internationals and appear on the covers of all home programmes up until 1998. However, they were then, temporarily, cast aside as the FA secured a deal with La Rive Promotions to produce all of the programmes for the Umbro Cup tournament. This was notable for the fact that, for the first time ever, the programmes for the two Wembley games were not produced by Wembley and their logo was not present at all in the publications. It was also interesting to note that England played a game at Elland Road, Leeds and the programme for that game was not produced by the host club, as it came under the La Rive arrangement.1995 England v Colombia Football Programme


Wembley resumed its publication of the England programme for the 1995-96 season, re-establishing a rather large logo on the cover, but now the Three Lions emblem was also prominent and would continue to be so, having been supplemented with a registered trademark and the team name underneath (this version was to be introduced for the new indigo-blue change shirt in 1996).

The next two programme covers in that season featured 8cm-tall ENGLAND lettering printed side-on down the right-hand side, but the three following that, dropped the team name from beneath the emblem. La Rive Promotions produced all eleven programmes for the European Championship games (one for each group, plus one each for England's group games, two combining two quarter-finals each, one for both semi-finals combined and one for the final).

Wembley stepped back in, once again, to publish England's programmes, with Green Flag somehow able to sponsor the first two home 1998 World Cup qualifiers, but when England met South Africa at Old Trafford, Manchester, it was La Rive, who again produced the programme. The England team name returned to the emblem on the cover for this season and it was also featured on the new England shirt for 1997.

The Green Flag sponsorship came to an end in 1998. There was no immediate replacement. England changed their emblem to move the team name to be a part of the emblem, at the top of it, and this was then reflected in the new kits that followed in 1999, when Nationwide became the new sponsor. The building society, like Green Flag before them, were to sponsor all of the home friendly internationals, and from the end of the 1998-99 season, they acquired for themselves, a prominent 13.5cm banner at the bottom of each cover and a half-size version at the bottom of every page (apart from those with adverts on).

La Rive returned, once again, to provide the programme for the Belgium game at Sunderland's Stadium of Light. Curiously, even though this was one of the games that they sponsored, the Nationwide cover banner was reduced by a couple of centimetres (though it was re-positioned to the top of the cover) and only had a mere 5cm at the bottom of each page. However, La Rive's style was to list the squads on the back cover and this is where Nationwide had a 10.5cm banner! This programme's front cover also featured the Football Association's emblem (rendered with the lions in a much lighter blue), with the usual emblem only appearing as part of the Nationwide banner. The remaining Wembley programmes in the 1999-2000 season continued with their own style and these were the last to be published by Wembley.

After five years as the understudy, La Rive Promotions were now installed as full-time producers of the FA's programmes, even providing Wembley's last edition before the closure of the stadium. Nationwide now had to settle for the smaller 9cm banners at the top of the cover, 9.5cm on the back cover and only just over 3cm at the bottom of each page. La Rive continued with the team's emblem (with team name at the top) rather than the FA's that they had used for the Belgium programme, but that now appeared on the FA's Welcome page (3). For the World Cup qualifiers, they introduced an interesting retro theme, whereby each cover would feature an action shot from a previous Wembley fixture against their opponents, together with a small reproduction of the cover of that game's programme. Interestingly, for the first two (Germany and Finland), the action featured was in black and white (from 1954 and 1976, respectively). For the Albania and Greece games, the past encounters featured were from 1989 and 1994, respectively.

Once the 2002 World Cup qualifiers were out of the way, a new style was introduced. A bold red 8cm banner, with a 1cm black border separating it from the cover photo, now adorned the top of the cover to hold all of the match details, including a first mention of TheFA.com, the new website. The Nationwide banner moved back to the bottom of the cover, but was increased to 7.5cm.

Programme against Italy 2002Programme for the match against Turkey 2003At the beginning of 2002, the style was then tweaked slightly. The red banner changed to white, with a red border, neatly matching the style of the England shirt, with its single red stripe.

After the 2001-02 season, Nationwide ceased to sponsor internationals, but remained as an official partner and only appeared in the programme as a full-page advert. The emblem was changed to incorporate a new slightly-larger font for the team name (subsequently added to the new shirt that was introduced in 2003) and the FA's emblem on page 3 was also amended to be the same shade of blue, thus appearing identical to the team's, except with 'The FA', rather than 'ENGLAND' at the top of the emblem.

This new England font (above right) now took centre stage for 2003. Against Australia, it became the sole title of the publication, as the white banner changed back to red, whilst the red border became silver (a colour that was to feature in the following year's new away kit), and became the new home for 'TheFA.com' to be mentioned. This edition was also significant, because the front cover featured headlines of the included articles for the first time, thus more resembling a magazine than a match programme. A slight tweak was made to the cover for the next game, as the size of the opponent's name was increased to second billing, beneath the ENGLAND title.

The following season (2003-04) brought a new publisher (Elmwood) and a change in size for the first time since 1987. It was now a smaller and handier 21x26cm. Only the length had changed, making it more square. The style was pretty much the same, the only change to the cover being the expansion of the website's reference into a promotional request to visit, though hardly noticeable at the foot.

At the end of the season, the FA hosted Japan and Iceland in a tournament at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. A brochure was produced for all three games and was a bumper ninety-page edition of the usual programme, but this time with a spine.

The FA changed publishers, yet again, at the beginning of 2005. Now it was Haymarket Customer Publishing and they produced the largest-ever sized programmes, at 23x30cm. The cover looked similar (though the website advert was dropped), but it now had the true look and feel of a glossy magazine that you might find in a dentist's waiting room!

The new magazines produced by Haymarket in 2005 were quality productions with regular features, and even a contents page and a spine. In May, they produced an additional, unique edition for England's game with Colombia in New York. With the United States not producing match programmes for their own national team, there was little chance of them producing one for two visitors, so the FA took it upon themselves to produce their own, US edition. It had all of the usual features, but it was a much smaller edition (only 36 pages, compared to the usual 68), it was printed on cheaper paper and it was reduced in size to 21x27.5cm, costing $8. There was even an advert for a programme subscription for US fans.


A barcode appeared on the front cover for the 2005-06 season, perhaps an indication of the intended marketing potential of the publication, though it was withdrawn after 2006. Other than that, the style persisted through to 2007 with Haymarket Network as the re-named publisher. Nationwide re-appeared on the cover after the 2006 World Cup, for the first time in four years, as the England Team Sponsor, but now as a more discrete 5.5cm banner at the bottom of the cover.

To coincide with the opening of the new Wembley Stadium, the programmes went through another makeover. The size was reduced back down to that of the more compact one-off New York edition of two years earlier, though there was an increase to 76 pages and the spine was replaced with good old-fashioned staples! Yet the style was still very much the one established in 2003, with the red banner at the top, albeit with a few more fancy graphics using the St. George's Cross theme.

In 2009, however, came an interesting deviation from the regular style. The new kit was kept under wraps until the night of a Wembley friendly against Slovakia and the programme was the first of a two-part collectors' edition. It was printed on recyclable paper and card, with a spine and the cover was just a huge close-up of the new emblem on the shirt, a tantalising glimpse of what was revealed as a new minimalist, almost all-white style. The back cover was also all-white in keeping with the theme, apart from small discrete banners for 'TheFA.com' and sponsors. This theme was replicated for the next game, four nights later, a World Cup qualifier against Ukraine, but the programme then reverted back to the previous long-established style with the red banner and a glossy magazine, though the spine remained and the cover was now limited to a single headline about the cover star.

Programme for the match against Hungary 2010The font was finally changed, after seven years, in 2010, and was now rendered in red on a white background.

Nationwide again disappeared from the cover and they were eventually replaced by three new partners (Carlsberg, Umbro and Mars), afforded a mere 2cm each at the bottom of the cover. Strangely, the programme dropped the spine and reverted back to staples again. Carlsberg only appeared on three programmes, before they were replaced on the cover, at the beginning of 2011, by Vauxhall, the car manufacturer, who took a slightly-enlarged 3cm banner as the new England Team Sponsor, positioned above the existing Mars and Umbro logos. The cover designs developed to include multiple personalities for each issue, cleverly merged together in a pattern.

A new partner's logo (williamhill.com) was added to the cover in 2012 and then a slightly new design was introduced in the lead-up to the European Championship, with players appearing on the cover in posed action shots and a thick red vertical band running down the cover, slightly to the left of centre. This obvious St. George's Cross symbol was also prevalent on the back cover, following the tournament, with the squad line-ups encased within the red band.

The FA celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 and a commemorative logo appeared on each programme. In addition to this, Nike, who took over as kit manufacturer from Umbro, replaced them on the cover, even though, for the first of these games, against Brazil, they were still wearing Umbro kits! However, following this, the posed shots on the cover were all of England players dressed in Nike. One more change to the style saw the opponent's name in a font perceived to be symbolic for that country. So 'Brazil' looked like it had been painted on and 'Republic of Ireland' was in the same font as on the Irish team's crest. The last four programmes of the year gave up the back cover to a simple design of the commemorative emblem, rendered in gold, against a layered red vertical band.

Programme for the match against Slovenia in 2014Programme for the match against Portugal in 2016Wembley introduced its own sponsor (EE) to the cover in 2014, but it was the second game of the 2014-15 season when we saw the next big change.

The big change was to go back to a smaller pocket-size 17x24cm. This was only slightly bigger than the old 1960s programmes, but now packed with 84 pages (and back to a spine again, occasionally featuring good luck messages from fans). The cover style was now a big red cross (pink for the Breast Cancer Care international) stretching across the back cover as well, with the new England font in white on a dark grey background. Only the 'Together for England' slogan appeared on the back cover, whilst it also featured at the bottom of every page, apart from those with adverts. The sponsors now found themselves squeezed into ever more tight spaces on the cover. Vauxhall could no longer tell us that they were the England Team Sponsor and William Hill no longer had room for the website address in their measly 1cm banner, alongside the Mars and Nike logos. Another very subtle addition was the '@ENGLAND' social media tag appearing under the team name in very small lettering.

The new colour palette was probably not so popular, because it changed back to something very similar to the pre-2014 design in 2016. Another new England font was used, back in red on a white background. It was very similar to the 2010 version, but now the 'L' and the 'A' were joined together. A continuing theme was to feature fans in black and white across the background on both the front and back covers, The hashtag, 'Together for England' was still prominent, but was now supplemented by tags for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat on the back cover, together with an England Supporters Club advert, sponsored by Vauxhall.

There was a partner change at the beginning of the 2016-17 season with a tiny Ladbrokes logo replacing the tiny William Hill one. Twelve months later, a slightly-changed style saw the squad listings return to the back cover and Ladbrokes disappear from the front, whilst at the foot of most pages was 'TheFA For All'; the latest promotional campaign logo. A clever 'half and half' split artwork was used on the cover of three consecutive programmes (Germany, Brazil and Italy) featuring marauding players and fans from each team.

Programme for the match against Nigeria in 2018From 2018, the publication switched back to a simple 'paper and card' material, with a reduced 68 pages, and a dramatic new design was introduced in red and blue, with the cover stars in black and white, and 'ENGLAND' in a very elongated font, behind the cover star (the social media tags were re-positioned onto the spine). Meanwhile, Vauxhall were no longer sponsoring the England Supporters Club which had a new logo on the back cover.

The new Nations League brought the number of tiny sponsor-logos on the cover to seven, with Bud Light, EE (in addition to their Wembley-sponsorship logo, also on the cover), 'head & shoulders', LG, and Lucozade Sport joining Mars and Nike, with Vauxhall having ended their stint as the Team Sponsor.

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