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Three Lions crest most important part of England shirt – Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate insisted the Three Lions crest was the most important part of the national team’s shirt as the Football Association faced criticism of the latest kit from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

The shirt’s manufacturer Nike has altered the appearance of the St George’s Cross using purple and blue horizontal stripes in what it called a “playful update” to the shirt ahead of Euro 2024.

Sunak warned Nike “should not mess” with the flag, while Starmer urged Nike to “reconsider” the design.

Southgate, though, was more interested in the iconography surrounding the traditional Three Lions badge than the “artistic take” on the St George’s Cross.

He said: “It’s not been high on my list of priorities, but that depends which bit it is (causing the controversy), because I don’t know if the debate is about the St George flag needing to be on the England shirt, because obviously it hasn’t always been.

“I think the most important thing that has to be on an England shirt is the Three Lions, it’s our iconic symbol, it is what distinguishes us, not only from football teams around the world but from England rugby and England cricket.

“It’s the thing that, when I put my shirt on at Burnham Beeches 30 ye

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