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Monday, August 16, 1999 Published at 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK


Business: The Company File

Chelsea denies BSkyB approach

BSkyB wants more negotiating power in TV football

Chelsea Village - the company which owns Chelsea Football Club - has denied newspaper reports claiming it has been in talks with BSkyB over selling the satellite broadcaster a 9.9% stake for about £15m.

The reports said BSkyB was also chasing a similar stake in Leeds Sporting, which owns Leeds United FC - and the Leeds chairman, Peter Ridsdale, confirmed last week that he had been having talks with a number of media companies.

Shares in Chelsea Village rose on the rumours (up 7 pence to 88.5p at 1400 GMT), as did shares in Leeds Sporting (up 1.25p to 24.75p). However, BSkyB shares fell 10p to 577p.

If the deals were to go ahead, it is understood that BSkyB would have to reduce its 11.6% stake in treble-winners Manchester United to comply with Football Association rules.


[ image: Big summer signings include Didier Deschamps]
Big summer signings include Didier Deschamps
Rupert Murdoch's satellite TV company is keen to get itself in a strong position for negotiations on future broadcasting rights, especially in pay-per-view contracts.

The Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers, blocked a BSkyB bid for Manchester United in April, ruling that the biggest broadcaster should not own the dominant team, but the satellite broadcaster has merely changed its approach to gaining more influence in the game.

It is now concentrating on trying to build a portfolio of investments in leading English football clubs.

BSkyB already owns rights to broadcast live Premiership football in England. With a shareholding in a number of top English clubs, it would be in a strong position in any future negotiations.

European league

Last month, the TV and leisure group, Granada, agreeda deal to buy a 9.9% stake in Premiership club Liverpool, and other media groups have also been linked with football clubs.

On the Continent there is already pay-per-view coverage of matches, with media companies owning clubs such as AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Bordeaux.

With the continuing moves towards a European super league, UK media groups are determined to ensure they get a seat at the negotiating table.



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