Managers at Arena sports pubs will be allowed to fly the St George's flag to support the England Euro 2004 squad after all.
Contrary to reports that the England flag has been banned from the 140-strong Mitchells and Butlers chain, M&B is insisting it is a matter for individual managers to decide the right approach to supporting Beckham and the boys.
The pub operator is concerned that an in-your-face show of support would put off customers, particularly women, who are not interested in watching matches during the three-week tournament, which kicks off on June 12.
An M&B spokeswoman said: "We obviously want all our guests to feel welcome whether they are football fans or not and therefore we ask our managers to give some thought as to how they display flags and other Euro 2004 merchandise.
"We have in no way banned the St. George's Cross - in fact Mitchells & Butlers will be flying the flag in its pubs during the tournament."
The official M&B line appears to contradict an internal memo quoted by the regional press in the Midlands. Coming from M&B executive Jeremy Skingley, the memo is quoted as saying: "It is strict company policy that no St George's flags should be displayed during Euro 2004.
"Unfortunately the St George's flag has negative connotations of football violence. It can also be an unwelcome signal to females and light users."
M&B suggested that the confusion was down to 'over-zealous' atempts to create the right atmosphere for all customers at a local level. M&B said that, as an English company, it is "proud of its heritage, proud of its patron Saint and proud of the England football team."
During the tournament M&B outlets "will be supporting the team with parties and promotions and a great atmosphere for guests".