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Friday, April 09, 1999 15:01
BSkyB's £623 million bid to takeover Manchester United Football Club has been blocked by the Department of Trade and Industry.
The DTI announced its decision after the Monopolies and Mergers Commission delivered its report on the proposed buy-out.
Stephen Byers, head of the DTI, explained his decision, saying, "the deal could operate against public interest and should be prohibited."
"The MMC's findings are based mainly on competition grounds where they concluded that the merger would adversely affect competition between broadcasters."
"But they also examined wider public interest issues concluding that the merger would damage the quality of British football. I accept these findings," he concluded.
Andy Walsh, who campaigned against the takeover, was unsurprisingly jubilant. "Stephen Byers has actually listened to what the fans had to say. Everybody throughout football said the deal would be bad for the game and bad for broadcasting. It's very satisfying."
Within minutes of the decision, shares in United dropped 12%. It remains to be seen whether another company will now bid to takeover the club.