- Title: UK: MANCHESTER UNITED FANS VOICE DISAPPROVAL OVER DEAL WITH BSKYB..
- Date: 10th September 1998
- Summary: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (SEPTEMBER 9, 1998) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. MANCHESTER UNITED CHIEF EXECUTIVE MARTIN EDWARDS (YELLOW TIE) AND SKY CHIEF EXECUTIVE MARK BOOTH SIGN OPEN LETTER TO MANCHESTER UNITED FANS 2. EDWARDS SAYING I DO NOT THINK IT (THE DEAL) MAKES ANY DIFFERENCE AT ALL TO THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE, THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE TALKS ARE GOING ON, UEFA ARE RE-LOOKING AT THEIR CLUB COMPETITIONS PACKAGE. MEDIA PARTNERS HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE SCHEME IF THE CLUBS DO NOT WANT TO STAY WITHIN UEFA. THAT WILL TAKE ITS NATURAL COURSE. SKY WILL NOT HAVE ANY BEARING OR INFLUENCE ON THAT IF A SUPER LEAGUE IS FORMED OR IF SKY WANTS TO BID FOR THE RIGHTS FOR THE UEFA COMPETITIONS THEY HAVE THAT RIGHT, THEY HAVE THAT RIGHT NOW, THEY WILL GO AHEAD AND BID. BUT IT IS A COMPETITIVE WORLD IF THEY GET THE BID THEY DESERVE IT IF THEY DO NOT, THEY WILL NOT. IT IS NOT GOING TO GIVE THEM ANY GREATER ADVANTAGE BEING IN BED WITH MANCHESTER UNITED (ENGLISH) 3. EDWARDS SAYING THE FANS WILL JUDGE THIS DEAL OVER A PERIOD OF TIME. THEY CLEARLY DO NOT LIKE IT TODAY BUT I DO NOT THINK A LOT OF THEM UNDERSTAND IT, ALL THEY HAVE HAD IS THE NEGATIVE PRESS AT THE MOMENT. WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO RESPOND BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN IN TALKS WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO RESPOND TO ANYTHING (ENGLISH) 4. VARIOUS OF OLD TRAFFORD GROUNDS 5. EDWARDS AND BOOTH SHAKE HANDS INSIDE GROUNDS 6. GROUNDS BEING TENDED 7. EXTERIOR OF OLD TRAFFORD 8. VARIOUS OF FANS ARRIVING FOR EVENING'S GAME/ MAN WEARING T-SHIRT SAYING "MURDOCH - UNWANTED" 9. PEOPLE HOLDING UP NEWSPAPERS WITH HEADLINE SAYING "STOP THE RED DEVIL 10. MANCHESTER UNITED FAN TONY MILLER SAYING I AM GUTTED REALLY, BUT IT IS A BAD DAY FOR ENGLISH FOOTBALL IN GENERAL, NOT JUST FOR UNITED BUT FOR THE WHOLE OF ENGLISH FOOTBALL, BECAUSE WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN NOW, HE (MURDOCH) IS GOING TO DECIMATE IT, HE IS GOING RUN IT HOW HE WANTS TO. YOU JUST HAVE TO LIVE FOOTBALL NOW, THE REFEREE LOOKS AT THE CAMERA MAN AND GETS A THUMBS UP FROM THE CAMERA MAN. SO NOW HE HE CAN ORGANISE WHO IS GOING TO WIN THE LEAGUE, WHAT CUPS HE WANTS, IT IS JUST THE WRONG THING NOW (ENGLISH) 12. TWO GIRLS WITH FACES PAINTED IN MANCHESTER UNITED COLOURS 13. FANS CHANTING "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE UNITED" 14. FANS ARRIVING FOR GAME/ FANS CARRYING BANNER SAYING "EDWARDS WHY MURDEROCH OUR CLUB" Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 25th September 1998 13:00
- Location: MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
- Country: United Kingdom
- Reuters ID: LVA68XEKK05XD4JERHQSD6C9OAJ7
- Story Text: Legendary British soccer club Manchester United Plc has agreed to a 1 billion United States (U.S.) dollars takeover by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB in a controversial deal that may face more opposition from fans than regulators.
Fans have voiced their disapproval of the takeover.
United and BSkyB executives worked through the night to finalise the agreement, which values the club at 623.4 million pounds (1.03 billion U.S.-dollars) and needs regulatory and shareholder approval to be completed.
The deal will add British sport to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire, which already owns top-selling newspapers The Sun and The Times as well as a controlling 40 per cent stake in pay-TV giant BSkyB.
Murdoch's perceived dominance of Britain's media has made him a favourite hate target for his rivals, who lost no time in branding him as a Red Devil--the nickname for United's players.
Rivals say the deal raises competition issues, arguing that BSkyB was trying to protect its Premier League soccer coverage.
But BSkyB head Mark Booth said he believed regulators would approve the deal, a view that was seconded by several analysts.
Besides regulators, BSkyB and Man United will have to work to convince the club's fans to back the deal, which is expected to be approved by shareholders.
Opponents argue Murdoch is more interested in the club's profit potential than its footballing prowess or proud history.
Some fans staged a protest during United's match against Charlton at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
But the expected mass protest failed to materialise in the wake of the company's pledge earlier in the day that it was devoted to making United the major force in the European game.
Some fans hit out at the takeover as they made their way into the Old Trafford stadium.
United's shareholders -- including Chief Executive Martin Edwards -- stand to make a killing from the deal, which values the club at 13 times its worth when floated on the stock exchange in 1991.
Manchester United, a household name throughout the soccer world, is Britain's wealthiest club.
BSkyB owns the exclusive right to live broadcasts of the English Premier League, comprising the country's top 20 teams.
But its contract runs out in 2001 and analysts said buying Manchester United would give Murdoch an insurance policy to protect his interests in a lucrative market that can only grow richer with the advent of multi-channel digital television.
In case of a regulatory referral or a higher offer for the club, BSkyB's current offer would lapse -- but it will keep the right to buy some 14 per cent of the club from Edwards who will join the BSkyB board if the offer goes through.
A further 60 per cent or so of the club is owned by financial institutions.
The balance is in the hands of management and individual shareholders, many of them fans.
The bid poses a dilemma for Tony Blair's Labour government, which risks angering fans if it approves the deal and alienating Murdoch's powerful papers if it blocks it.
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