Tag: Wayne Rooney

Football’s back! Six unmissable storylines to look out for in 2017-18

At last, it’s back! The real football has returned! From now until late May of next year, it’s non-stop, full-on, unadulterated football and we at Icons.com could not be more excited.

After all, this season has the potential to be bigger, better and more exciting than ever. And not just in England. Let’s not forget the thrills that await around the continent; in Spain, Germany, Italy and France, where the best footballers on the planet do battle in front of the biggest crowds for the right to claim the world’s most coveted prizes.

In fact, with so much going on around the world on the opening weekend of the season, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start or what to look out for. Well, it’s lucky we’re here then, isn’t it? Here are six things you need to keep an eye on this season.

 

1. Bem-vindo Neymar Jr

So, it actually happened. With Neymar Jr’s switch from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for €222million, world football’s transfer record has been broken by a factor of two. Our office stopped in its tracks to watch – perhaps a little out of disbelief – as the mercurial Brazilian forward was presented in front of the world’s media last week. With a glitzy unveiling in front of a sell-out crowd days later, the Parc de Princes has had more than a little Hollywood about it over the past month.

This season the 25-year-old will surely set his sights not only on a sweep of the domestic titles on offer at his new club but also a shot at one or both of the two individual honours that would certify his superstar status: the Ballon D’or and FIFA’s The Best Award. Will the football gods also write a mouthwatering script that reunites him with Barça in the UEFA Champions League? It may be time to start warming those balls…

 

2. The main event

Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, this season’s race for club football’s most sought-after prize promises to be as thrilling as ever. Real Madrid made history at the end of last season as they became the first team to successfully defend their title but Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t quite content with just two-in-a-row. The Spanish champions have won the famous tournament in three of the last four years and they’ve developed a taste for success.

Meanwhile, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are back, adding three previous winners and two of the competition’s most storied teams to the mix. Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho have a great knack of inspiring magic on European nights but can the trophy really return to the North West as early as this season?

Not if the rest of Europe has something to say about it. A certain aforementioned Brazilian seems dead-set on making his mark at PSG but to get to Kiev they may have to return to the scene of last season’s most remarkable tie: Camp Nou. All this while Carlo Ancelotti plots Bayern Munich’s return to the European throne and Gianluigi Buffon prays for one last shot at the trophy that has always eluded him.

As an official UEFA licensee, Icons.com is the proud home of official UEFA Champions League signed memorabilia.

 

3. A six-horse race

The Premier League is getting stronger in competitive terms, there’s no doubt about that. Almost all of the world’s best managers are taking charge of talented, hungry and exciting teams in England’s topflight and that means the title could go almost anywhere.

In Manchester, Pep Guardiola is building an attack-minded team at City with the signing of Monaco’s Bernardo Silva to add to Sergio Aguero’s goals, while United have a new hitman in the form of Romelu Lukaku. Liverpool are still a side of pure pace up front and should be an entertaining watch considering their attacking prowess.

Meanwhile, in London, Antonio Conte has one of the world’s most exciting attacking midfielders in Eden Hazard and Mauricio Pochettino will just be happy that both Harry Kane and Dele Alli (see below) have gone the summer without their heads being turned. Arch-rivals Arsenal have satisfied the wishes of their fans with the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette and the retention of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil (at the time of writing, anyway). So, who exactly is supposed to be the frontrunner here?

Find out who we fancy to come out on top in our special 2017-18 season predictions blog.

 

4. Dele’s big year

The breakout season is history, the sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen. Now the most exciting young talent at both Tottenham Hotspur and England can stretch his legs and really show us what he’s got. Gunning for a hat-trick of PFA Young Player of the Year awards – and perhaps the main gong too – Dele Alli faces a season of much promise.

Playing in front of potentially 90,000 fans at Spurs’ temporary home of Wembley Stadium won’t faze the England regular, nor will the prospect of a second season in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In fact, knowing the boy-wonder personally from our signing sessions, we’re not sure exactly what could faze him, if anything. Here is a confident 21-year-old who has the world at his feet. Which reminds us, isn’t there some sort of big international tournament coming soon?

We are immensely proud to have an official contract with Tottenham and England sensation Dele Alli. For exclusive signed products, visit Icons.com today.

 

5. All the world’s a stage

Ah, yes, the FIFA World Cup. Next summer sees the return of the biggest football tournament on the planet and with potentially one last chance at winning that most coveted trophy, the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be desperate to deliver glory to their respective countries. Neymar Jr, Philippe Coutinho, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Dele Alli will be among the young but established stars hoping to capture the world’s attention and with the talent on offer it promises to be a tournament full of drama.

Whisper it but England look to be stronger than in recent years with Wayne Rooney surely determined to bow out of international football on a high alongside a stellar mix of young and experienced players mostly plying their trade in the Premier League.

Capture the spirit and excitement of the FIFA World Cup with officially-licensed FIFA World Cup signed memorabilia, exclusive to Icons.com.

 

6. La Liga’s on a knife-edge

Madridistas could be forgiven for still being a little hungover when their domestic season starts with a Supercopa Clasico on Sunday evening. Last season, Real won their first league title since 2012 and became the first team in history to retain the UEFA Champions League. Their supremacy is currently unquestioned but this season their hated rivals will want revenge.

Lionel Messi’s ultra dramatic, last-gasp winner in the sides’ pulsating encounter at the Bernabeu merely fanned the flames that could well spark all-out war this term. Barça haven’t experienced for years the upheaval they’ve suffered over the past few months with Neymar Jr gone and now a new man at the helm. Who knows how Ernesto Valverde plans to stop the Zidane juggernaut?

 

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The Icons.com 2017-18 Season Predictions

So, here we are again. When Leicester City travel to Arsenal on Friday night to open the 2017-18 Premier League season, it’ll be the first of 380 league matches that stretch over ten months and determine the fates of twenty topflight clubs. Win roughly 25 of your 38 matches and you’ll be in with a shout of the title; avoid losing more than 20 times and you should, in theory, stay up. It’s as simple as that, right?

Well, not quite. This is, after all, one of the most unforgiving leagues in all of world football. It’s a division in which the title defence of the two previous champions ended in finishes of 10th and 12th respectively. Where a team with five UEFA Champions League winners amongst its ranks could only muster a measly 13th place in 2016-17. And where a side who finished some 32 points shy of last season’s champions have spent nearly £100million on new recruits over the summer.

This is indeed a brutal league. But that’s exactly why it attracts the biggest audiences, a number of the biggest stars and most certainly the biggest names in management. For the likes of Mourinho, Conte, Pochettino, Klopp, Wenger and Guardiola, this weekend’s action offers the potential first step towards the ultimate glory. But to whom the trophy will go is anyone’s guess.

Giving it our best shot, we, the staff and partners of Icons.com, are back again to answer (or at least attempt to answer) the burning questions on everyone’s minds ahead of the big kick-off. But don’t just take our word, get involved on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages by giving us your predictions for the season ahead. You can hardly do much worse.

And, of course, be sure to check out our fantastic range of signed items from Premier League stars past and present – available right now on Icons.com.

It’s make or break time for Pep Guardiola in Manchester

Edward Freedman, Chairman

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Liverpool (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Watford, Brighton & Hove Albion
Overachievers: Everton – The Toffees have spent big but have invested well this summer. Wayne Rooney‘s return brings valuable experience to a dressing room packed with new and exciting faces.
Underachievers: Arsenal – Last year I predicted that because the Gunners had spent nothing they would falter. This year, despite the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette, the same problems will persist. Wenger should have left years ago.
Golden Boot: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Ederson (Manchester City) – The Brazilian youngster is an improvement on former keepers at the Etihad.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winners: AC Milan

Random prediction: Lionel Messi will become only the fifth player ever to have won five Pichichi trophies after he finishes the season as La Liga’s top scorer.

Dan Jamieson, CEO

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: West Ham United – The Hammers have finally bought a striker with bags of Premier League experience.
Underachievers: Southampton – After years of gradual progress, decline will finally set in at St Mary’s.
Golden Boot: Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
Signing of the season: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – I always go for Liverpool‘s big money signing…

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winners: Liverpool. Come on, we can all dream!
UEFA Europa League winners: Manchester United will retain the trophy after dropping out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stages.

Random prediction: Barcelona will improve despite the departure of Neymar Jr. They’ll wrestle the Spanish title back from Real Madrid.

Wayne Rooney has returned to Everton – could his experience bring success to Goodison?

Ben Soley, Sales and Marketing Manager

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Chelsea – A paper thin squad coupled with the return of UEFA Champions League football should make life tough for the Blues but Eden Hazard will keep them winning.
Underachievers: Manchester City‘s backline – Pep’s back four will improve on last season but they’ll still leak plenty of goals.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian will make a big difference for United but if Liverpool can sign a central defender the title is in the bag.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Liverpool

UEFA Champions League winners: Paris Saint-Germain – Neymar Jr will take the Parisians that one step further they need this year.
UEFA Europa League winners: Villarreal – Though Arsenal will surely walk it if only they try.

Random predictions: Dele Alli‘s rise to superstardom continues, earning him a big money move at the end of the season for, let’s say, £200million. From March onwards, a number of players will feign and/or elongate injuries in order to be fresh for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. One of Nathan Redmond or Tom Davies sneaks onto England‘s plane for Russia.

Alistair Hunter, Senior Editor

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Chelsea (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City
Overachievers: Newcastle United – The Rafa Revolution rolls on. In fact, he even manages to take a handful of points from former employers Liverpool and Chelsea.
Underachievers: Stoke City – Mark Hughes wins the sack race feeling the absence of the brilliant Marko Arnautovic. The rest of the bottom half chews them up and spits them out.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City) – Manchester City fans will thank their lucky stars for that buy-back clause as the exciting young forward links up with Jamie Vardy to devastating effect.

FA Cup winners: West Ham United – Slaven Bilic’s side overcome Championship opposition in the Final.
League Cup winners: Cambridge Unit- ah, no, we’re out already. Okay, let’s go with Manchester City.

UEFA Champions League winners: Real Madrid – No-one thought back-to-back titles could be done. Why can’t they make it three-in-a-row with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at the top of their game?
UEFA Europa League winners: Lyon – The French side weren’t too far off last season and this year the Final takes place in their own back yard.

Random prediction: A goalkeeper will get on the scoresheet at some stage this season. Liverpool sacrifice the topflight for a deep run in the UEFA Champions League as they reach the semi-finals. Cambridge United win automatic promotion from League Two.

Icons favourite Dele Alli: world football’s next £200million player?

Joe Turnbull, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Liverpool (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Manchester United (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Stoke City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa Benitez is experienced at Premier League level. I wouldn’t bet against him taking the Toon into the top ten.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Friction between Antonio Conte and the board will be their downfall. New boy Alvaro Morata won’t click and injuries will deplete their squad, leaving the Stamford Bridge side languishing in sixth.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) – Though he cost a lot of money, the Belgian brings guaranteed goals. Lukaku is a fantastic player who will step up to the plate and may even give Jose a long run in the UEFA Champions League.

FA Cup winners: Liverpool
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: Bayern Munich
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan – After the summer the Rossoneri have had, it’s difficult to see past them. The English clubs will represent themselves well.

Random prediction: Neymar Jr carries Paris Saint-Germain all the way to the Final but they come up just short to Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

Matt Sheppard, Editorial Intern

Premier League winners: Chelsea
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Arsenal (3rd), Tottenham Hotspur (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Newcastle United – Rafa will finally get to show exactly why he decided to stick by the Toon Army following their relegation the season before last.
Underachievers: West Ham United – There’s lots of hype around the Hammers’ big-name signings but most of them will prove well past their sell-by date.
Golden Boot: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Signing of the season: Bernardo Silva (Manchester City) – The Portuguese international will form a partnership with Kevin de Bruyne that turns into quite something.

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Manchester City

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AC Milan

Random prediction: Pep Guardiola will resign at the end of the season, following a failure to land the league or UEFA Champions League. Nathaniel Chalobah will be on that plane to Russia next year.

Italian giants AC Milan are well fancied for UEFA Europa League glory

Chris Jinks, A1 Sporting Memorabilia

Premier League winners: Arsenal
Top four: Chelsea (2nd), Manchester City (3rd), Liverpool (4th)
Relegated: Burnley, Swansea City, Huddersfield Town
Overachievers: Arsenal – Without the distraction of trying (and repeatedly hopelessly failing) to win the UEFA Champions League, the Gunners focus on domestic matters. Momentum stays with the team early in 2018 when they would usually falter.
Underachievers: Manchester United – Mourinho has made a number of big money signings but The Special One will be unable to get the team to gel. Without a trophy, Jose gets grumpier by the day.
Golden Boot: Alvaro Morata (Chelsea)
Signing of the season: Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal) – In a time when we have £200million players, Wenger still finds a bargain in this free transfer.

FA Cup winners: Chelsea
League Cup winners: Tottenham Hotspur

UEFA Champions League winner: FC Barcelona
UEFA Europa League winner: Villarreal

Random prediction: Arsene Wenger will call it a day having finally won the league, bowing out on a high. (I’m going to keep predicting this each year until it’s true!)

Harm Jan Deuring, De Hand van Maradona

Premier League winners: Manchester City
Top four: Manchester United (2nd), Tottenham Hotspur (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Burnley, Watford
Overachievers: Huddersfield Town – The Terriers do what many believe to be impossible: they avoid relegation.
Underachievers: Chelsea – Morata for Diego Costa is a mistake while Eden Hazard will be sorely missed during the opening weeks of the season. Liverpool will also struggle under the weight of their busy schedule.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United) and Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) share the honour.
Signing of the season: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United) – The Serbian is the missing link in Jose’s midfield. Tottenham‘s first signing of the season will be a close second – whoever it may be!

FA Cup winners: Arsenal
League Cup winners: Surprisingly, a side outside the top six!

UEFA Champions League winner: Real Madrid
UEFA Europa League winner: AS Monaco

Random prediction: Alexis Sanchez will stay at the Emirates but will have a disappointing season. No-one in the Manchester United squad will be banned for more games than Jose Mourinho himself.

Is this the year Arsene Wenger finally wins back the Premier League title?

Scott Hutchison, US Partner

Premier League winners: Manchester United
Top four: Manchester City (2nd), Chelsea (3rd), Arsenal (4th)
Relegated: Brighton & Hove Albion, Huddersfield Town, West Bromwich Albion
Overachievers: Crystal Palace – Frank de Boer guides the Eagles to a nice finish alongside the big boys.
Underachievers: Tottenham Hotspur – The Wembley hoodoo comes for Spurs again.
Golden Boot: Romelu Lukaku (Manchester United)
Signing of the season: Javier Hernandez (West Ham United) – The Mexican is an absolute steal for what he’ll do on the pitch and pure highway robbery for what he’ll do for the club in the North American market.

FA Cup winners: Manchester City
League Cup winners: Everton

UEFA Champions League winner: Chelsea
UEFA Europa League winner: Celtic

Random prediction: My prediction that Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic would move to the Premier League didn’t come true in 2016-17 but he will crush it in Germany this season, becoming one of the darlings of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. That move to England will be a superstar signing come the summer of 2018.


So, that’s what we think will go down during this season’s Premier League campaign. But what do you think? Send us your predictions by getting in touch via our FacebookTwitter and Instagram pages!

For our full range of Premier League signed products check out icons.com now!



Icons Announce New Official FA England Memorabilia Licence

FA-Licence-Announcement

We are today proud to announce a brand new licence with The Football Association to provide Icons.com and The England Store with Official England Licensed Memorabilia.

Adding to official licences for FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA EURO 2016 and Lionel Messi signed products, we are delighted to bring together a brand new range of superb items signed by many of England’s finest ever players both past and present.

Many of the products in our brand new range mark the 50th anniversary of English football’s finest hour: the 1966 FIFA World Cup. We have signed items from the heroes of that legendary team; Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton, Sir Geoff Hurst, Gordon Banks, Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Roger Hunt, George Cohen, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson. There are team signed shirts both framed and unframed, signed photos, posters, boots, balls and much more among our wide selection.

World Cup Final

Sir Bobby Charlton holds aloft The Jules Rimet Trophy at Wembley Stadium on July 30th, 1966

Each and every product will come with an Official England Licensed Memorabilia Certificate of Authenticity which, where possible, gives details of when and where each item was signed. It’s proof that the product is 100% genuine and 100% official.

So, whether you’re feeling nostalgic about legendary achievements of England’s greatest ever players or excited for a new era of Three Lions football under Sam Allardyce, you’re bound to find an item you’ll treasure.

With exciting new products being added to both sites over the coming weeks and months, keep your eyes peeled for more Official England Licensed Memorabilia from the world’s best. The full range is coming to Icons.com soon but if you can’t wait, check out our products on The England Store today!

For more reasons to buy from Icons.com, visit our Why Buy From Us page.

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Icons Weekend Football Preview: Barcelona Out To Extend Unbeaten Run; Aguero In Top Of The Table Clash

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-ATLETICO

It’s almost the weekend! And that means, as always, there’s a full card of top class football to look forward to. Football that involves our Icons doing what they do best – being iconic. So who’s playing where and when? With a run-down of what our friends are up to this weekend, it’s the Icons Weekend Football Preview

Don’t forget to let us know who you’ll be supporting by getting in touch with our social media team. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and let them know how your favourite Icon has gotten on over the course of the weekend. Let’s get started!

 

Sunderland vs Manchester United

Manchester United's English midfielder Jesse Lingard (R) celebrates with Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney after scoring during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London on February 7, 2016. / AFP / Ian Kington / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata travel to Wearside to take on Premier League strugglers Sunderland this weekend and we’re confident that at least one of them will be on the scoresheet during Saturday’s early kick-off. Rooney has scored three goals in United’s last two matches against the Black Cats, while Mata has scored twice in their last three meetings. Louis van Gaal’s side will arrive at the Stadium of Light hoping to keep up their good form and a win here will keep the Red Devils in touch with the top four – at least two of whom are guaranteed to drop points on Sunday.

Details: Premier League, Stadium of Light, Saturday 12:45pm, BT Sport 1 HD


Real Madrid vs Athletic Bilbao

GettyImages-507783510

Real Madrid have scored 19 goals in five games since Zinedine Zidane took charge and a whopping 16 in three home games at the Santiago Bernabeu and with Gareth Bale nearing a return to full fitness it’ll be down to Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez to continue the scoring in this deceptively tricky clash against sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao. Ronaldo will no doubt be in the mood, having picked up the Pichichi Trophy for finishing last season as the league’s top scorer during the weekend. How many will he and Real get this weekend?

Details: La Liga, Santiago Bernabeu, Saturday 3pm


Aston Villa vs Liverpool

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores their first and equalising goal from a free-kick during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Philippe Coutinho scored a wonderful free-kick midweek as Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup against West Ham United but, despite defeat, Jurgen Klopp’s young side looked strong and can take plenty of positives into this match at bottom of the table Aston Villa. Klopp will look to Coutinho for more magic this weekend and the Kop boss was full of praise for his Brazilian star recently. “I don’t know many teams who he can’t play for,” Klopp said of Coutinho. We can’t think of many either!

Details: Premier League, Villa Park, Sunday 2:05pm, Sky Sports 1 HD


Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

Manchester City v Leicester City - Premier League

Two of the Premier League’s most deadly strikers will face off at the Etihad on Sunday afternoon as Harry Kane and his Tottenham side travel to face Sergio Aguero and Manchester City in this mouth-watering top of the table clash. Aguero has scored six in his last four league games and Kane is on form too, with four in his last four Premier League outings, so expect goals from this match – one that could go a long way in deciding where the Premier League trophy ends up come May.

Details: Premier League, Etihad Stadium, Sunday 4:15pm Sky Sports 1 HD


Barcelona vs Celta Vigo

Barcelona v Valencia - Copa del Rey Semi Final, First Leg

Luis Enrique’s Barcelona broke a club record on Wednesday with a 1-1 draw in the Copa del Rey at Valencia. The draw not only sealed their place in history – with the team reaching a record 29 consecutive games unbeaten in all competitions – but also the final of the Copa. Superstars Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta were all rested for that game so we expect that foursome, fresh and on form, to come into this match against an overachieving Celta Vigo side eager to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Details: La Liga, Camp Nou, Sunday 7:30pm, Sky Sports 1 HD


Who will you be watching this weekend? Let us know!

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Icons Shop Limited Becomes The World’s Largest Football Memorabilia Company

ICONS BECOMES WORLD’S LARGEST FOOTBALL MEMORABILIA COMPANY

– Marka PJSC acquires a majority stake in Icons Shop Limited

– Icons buys assets of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, to create world’s largest football memorabilia company

London – June 15, 2015 – Icons Shop Limited, the UK-based signed memorabilia company today announced that it had sold a majority stake to Marka PJSC (DFM: MARKA), the first public joint stock company focused on the UAE’s retail sector. Marka acquired a sixty-five per cent share for £2.65 million. Icons have used the investment to create the largest football memorabilia company in the world, through the purchase of the assets of rival A1 Sporting Memorabilia.

Icons, which was established in 1999, retails exclusive and non-exclusive sports merchandise, has a key focus on football. The company was awarded the world’s first ever signed football memorabilia licence by FIFA in 2010 to produce a range of signed iconic World Cup products. In July 2012, Icons was awarded the first ever official licence for the UEFA Champions League and this year announced a licensing deal for UEFA Euro2016 France. The company holds valuable licensing contracts with the world’s most famous players; including Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale and enjoys long term relationship with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Neymar Jr.

Marka will integrate Icons and A1 products into its Modell’s Sporting Goods stores as well as its just opened UEFA Champions League Experience, located in Abu Dhabi’s Yas Mall in the United Arab Emirates. The concept, developed in partnership with UEFA, is the first of its kind and plans are confirmed for multiple locations across the GCC.

Dan Jamieson, managing director of Icons said, “Icons is the world’s leading football memorabilia brand and the most trusted operation in the game. Authenticity is everything to us, as it is everything to our customers. Our new joint venture with Marka enables us to open up our offerings to the Middle East region and beyond, bringing the millions of dedicated fans there the very best choice and quality of sports memorabilia. With the acquisition of A1 we have unprecedented access to, and a wide portfolio of, past and present icons of the game.”

Nick Peel, CEO of Marka and chairman of the joint venture between Marka and Icons, said, “The acquisition of a majority stake in Icons is an important strategic addition to our growing sports retail portfolio. With the addition of A1, the company will be the world’s leading football memorabilia brand and makes Marka a market leader in a highly-profitable segment, with strong international growth potential through the successful online websites Icons.com and A1sportingmemorabilia.co.uk.”

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Terry Baker, Founder and CEO of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, commented, “We are delighted to sell the UK’s leading memorabilia website, eBay store, stock and other assets to Icons. They understand the A1 brand and with the existing team, will continue to bring our national and international audience legendary players at legendary prices. We will still be involved as consultants, but will be primarily concentrating on our sporting speaker business.”

Marka confirmed that Mr. Jamieson will remain with Icons as its chief executive officer, Icons’ current chairman, Edward Freedman will remain as a board director. Nick Peel, chief executive officer of Marka and a former retail and licensing director at Arsenal FC, will assume the role of chairman of Icons.

About Icons Shop Limited:

Icons has been in business since 1999, the full range is available on www.icons.com

Icons exclusively produce the official Leo Messi Signed Merchandise range and are entering into the 10th year of their relationship with the world’s best player. Icons hold the licences for the UEFA Champions League, The FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia, the UEFA Europa League and The UEFA European Championships – UEFA Euro2016 France.

Icons Chairman, Edward Freedman, has over 40 years’ experience in the retail industry and in the late 80s was Managing Director of Tottenham Hotspur. He then moved to Manchester United and became Managing Director of Manchester United Merchandising from 1992 onwards. Over the next six years he transformed the commercial side of the club’s operation and built Manchester United into the biggest brand in world football. He was also a key player in the formation of the Premier League and was hailed by The Economist as “football’s merchandising guru”.

Icons are an international brand and supply to well over 90 countries each year and have representatives in North America and regularly supply customers in Japan, China. Australia and the Middle East.

Icons employs the highest standards in the signed football merchandise industry to assure customers of the authenticity of its products. At each event, photographs document each signature and Icons creates a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for each item including the date and venue and a picture of the product and the signing image. Each product carries a uniquely coded Icons hologram whose identical twin is added to the COA which is signed by the Icons Managing Director.

Icons products are sold in Harrods in the UK, Futbolmania in Spain, UEFA Champions League Experience Abu Dhabi and Modell’s Sporting Goods stores in Dubai.

For further information about Icons, visit www.icons.com or email [email protected]

About Marka PJSC:

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Marka PJSC (DFM: MARKA) is the first public joint stock company focused on the growing retail sector in the UAE. Incorporated with a capital of AED 500 million and headquartered in Dubai, Marka is a premier retail operator targeting the mid-to-high-range and luxury segments.

Since incorporation in 2014, Marka has partnered with leading global brands in the retail and hospitality sectors, pursuing a growth strategy focused on acquisitions, franchise agreements and unique retail concepts. Marka is committed to offering value to its customers through high quality products and services at optimum cost, simultaneously generating value for its shareholders and giving back to the communities in which it operates.

For further information about Marka and to learn more about its brands, visit www.markaholding.com