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Football club catches, then punts, Kaspersky name

Anger on the terraces sees Russians' role reduced

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Australian Rugby League team the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles has changed its name to the Kaspersky Sea Eagles, only to retract the name change hours later after a backlash from fans.

Rugby League is a 13-a-side version of rugby. The sport is popular in northern England and the east coast of Australia, where interest is sufficiently high that Rupert Murdoch once formed a breakaway rebel competition to lure punters to his pay TV interests. Elsewhere in the world the game is obscure and unloved, except in Papua New Guinea where it is the national sport.

Manly is a somewhat insular Sydney beachside suburb, and the supporters of other clubs love to hate its team. But yesterday its supporters hated it too, after the club cemented a sponsorship deal with Kaspersky Lab by issuing a press release announcing it will henceforth be known as the “Kaspersky Sea Eagles”. The name change came after a new deal that will see Kaspersky appear on the team's jerseys for three years until 2015. Kaspersky has sponsored the team since 2011.

Fans, including television weatherman Tim Bailey, promptly took to forums and social media to decry the besmirching of the club's name.

A mere two hours later, the club issued another press release, this time saying it will forever be called the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, but that it will be the Kaspersky Sea Eagles for administrative purposes in order to help the antivirus company extract maximum value from its sponsorship dollar.

Kaspersky also sponsors the Collingwood Magpies, the richest and most-hated team in the Australian Football League. ®

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