It’s been a week of sporting activity for The Insider – but he’s still found time to follow fashion and dodge meerkats

I hear Home & Legacy’s household products manager Ian Davies stole the show when Allianz took a group of cricket-loving insurance journalists for dinner with legendary Aussie spin bowler Shane Warne at the Brit Oval last week. Despite ladies’ man Warne telling tales of his former glories, it was Davies who was the talk of the table after shelling out £650 on a signed photo of Pele’s famous bicycle kick in the silent auction. The size of his donation soon sunk in, however, when he began to wonder how he was going to explain his extravagant purchase when he got home. It’s unclear whether Pele is now proudly hanging on Davies’ living room wall or in the dog house.

Who wears the skirt…

For those ladies licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Biba boss Eric Galbraith in a kilt once again, sadly you could be waiting a while. Eric displayed his Scottish roots earlier this month when he donned his kilt at an awards ceremony for trade associations. What we didn’t know, and what most people don’t know, is that a kilt is a particularly heavy piece of clothing. It transpires that Eric is only prepared to lug it around for special occasions. At least Biba has now put up the picture of a kilted Eric and his award-winning team at its head office. I’m sure it will be a smash hit with the female visitors.

To hull and back

The thought of waves the size of Waterloo station bearing down on you is enough to send shivers down the spine. So take your hats off to QBE underwriter James Croome and his buddy, Oliver Black. The brave 25-year-olds will row the Atlantic at the end of year. QBE has showed its full support by offering to plaster its name all over their little boat. Apparently, they were even considering sponsoring the hull until some bright spark realised a capsize and rescue á la Tony Bullimore (the lone yachtsman rescued after five days in 1997) wouldn’t look too good on our TV sets. They sure got to the bottom of that one.

Team spirit

Man United is certainly proving a smash hit with its sponsor, Aon. One thousand staff names were in the hat for just seven pairs of tickets for the Red Devils' opening game against Birmingham City. That’s nearly 20% of the broker’s 5,000-plus UK workforce. While three pairs of tickets were plucked out in a lottery-style draw, the others were presented as awards for good performance. The lucky few saw United scrap out a hard-fought 1-0 victory, thanks to a Wayne Rooney goal – a far cry from the Reds’ next game, when they crashed to a humiliating loss at Burnley. At least there were no tickets on offer for away games.

More talk about lines and length

To the Oval on Friday with Brit Insurance, and on a sun-drenched roof terrace with Dane Douetil were the senior Brit team, Mike Gatting, Graham Gooch and Darren Gough, among a sprinkling of insurance celebs. Can you think of a better way to spend a day? Apparently, Dane invited Aussie rival Trevor Matthews from Friends Provident into his box for a spot of light-hearted banter. But Dane soon dismissed him for a duck … only for Matthews to return to his own box to continue watching the demolition of his shell-shocked Australian team.

True value of a tenor

Gocompare has unveiled a new character it hopes will knock Comparethemarket’s meerkat, Aleksandr, off the top spot of most annoying insurance company mascot. The latest commercial from Gocompare features opera singer Gio Compario prancing around a coffee shop singing about insurance. Reviews on YouTube were mixed. One said: “This ad is starting to become really annoying”, while another felt it was “better than the last one – so boring I would mute the telly”. But one fan gushed: “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen”. Well, that’s one (easily) pleased viewer, at least. IT