Ex-Arsenal stars on the road to Wembley

Ex-Arsenal duo Martin Keown and Ray Parlour amongst a string of former stars to have signed for Wembley FC to play in next season's FA Cup.

Arsenal vs Leeds: Martin Keown, Ray Parlour

Argentina World Cup star Claudio Caniggia has also signed for the Combined Counties Premier Division club along with Graeme Le Saux and former United States striker Brian McBride, while David Seaman has come on board as goalkeeping coach.

The players have all been recruited by the Wembley technical adviser Terry Venables with the financial backing of club sponsors Budweiser, who are also the lead partner of the FA Cup.

The aim of the arrangement is "to see how far the club could go in future seasons of the FA Cup".

The Football Association insisted Wembley, whose club motto is "A Posse Ad Esse" - from possibility to reality - had not broken any rules in signing the players.

The FA also stressed their own sponsorship deal with Budweiser was "entirely separate" to Wembley FC's tie-up with the American beer firm.

Budweiser believe they are "championing the magic of the FA Cup" as part of their overall strategy for sponsoring the competition.

Jason Warner, Global VP Budweiser, said: "We are pleased to continue to support Wembley FC as they strive to achieve their dreams and we think their story will appeal to - and inspire - football fans around the world."

There were no concerns from Wembley manager Ian Bates that the club was being used by its sponsors, who came on board in March and brought Venables to the club.

"The initiative shines a light on non-league football, reminding people of the importance of amateur football in contributing to the development of the national game," Bates said.

"A year ago we were playing in front of an empty grandstand and the clubhouse was falling down. Now the investment means great times are waiting for Wembley FC and we can't wait to kick off our FA Cup campaign."

The former professionals have been coaching Wembley's 34-strong squad over the last four months.

But they are now registered as players and will be available for Wembley FC's first FA Cup fixture of the new season, in the extra preliminary round on August 11.

"What they (Budweiser) are doing is giving Wembley FC players a chance to learn and play with some great ex-pros and see what it is like," Seaman said.

"This is a great chance and why not carry it on and do it in other clubs?"



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