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England's Barmy Army accused of breaching copyright

Saturday, 25 November 2006 - 1:29pm IST | Agency: AFP

ECB spokesman Colin Gibson said his organisation had written to Barmy Army questioning use of the EBC logo and the term 'Ashes' on merchandise.

BRISBANE: England cricket chiefs on Saturday accused the Barmy Army of infringing copyright, creating another problem for the cheer squad reeling from their team's woeful form and upset by tight security.

England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spokesman Colin Gibson said his organisation had written to Barmy Army questioning use of the EBC logo and the term "Ashes" on merchandise.

Gibson denied a report the ECB had taken legal action over the issue, but refused to rule it out if the situation was not resolved.

"We have written to them pointing out breaches of our IP (intellectual property) and are waiting for their response," he said.

"No one wants legal action if possible."

The Barmy Army's Australian equivalent, the Fanatics, had its own copyright problems in the lead up to the series when recording giant EMI complained about the use of several of its artist's tunes in a group songbook.

However, EMI dropped its objections after being accused of being "un-Australian" by the Fanatics.

Meanwhile, threats of a Barmy Army Ashes boycott proved unfounded today when England's long-suffering fans again turned out to watch their team get whipped at Brisbane's Gabba stadium.

The supporters' group had threatened to shun the series after complaining that heavy-handed treatment from Brisbane's "fun police" was ruining the atmosphere of the series opener.

Barmy Army organiser Paul Burnham was particularly incensed by the eviction of his group's trumpeter during the first day's play and said many fans were avoiding the ground and watching the game on television in protest.

He also raised the prospect of the Barmy Army cancelling events at the upcoming Melbourne and Sydney Tests if the security crackdown continued.

But England fans, some of whom have paid USD 11,500 to travel Down Under for the most hyped series in Australian history, voted with their feet on Saturday and again arrived in force at the Gabba.

Only half a dozen England supporters were watching the game on screens at the Barmy Army's "official headquarters" in Brisbane Saturday  morning and even they were just having an early beer before going to see it live.

Ben Farnell had just arrived in from Sydney for the game and said his main concern was whether another woeful performance from Andrew Flintoff's team would make his tickets for the fourth day worthless.

"I'm definitely going if it's not all over by then, who wouldn't?" he said.

Burnham himself was at the Gabba, and was not talking about boycotts when contacted.

"We're just here to watch the cricket," he said, as another English wicket fell. "Not that we'll be doing that for much longer if it keeps on like this."

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