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Tuesday, November 10, 1998 Published at 06:24 GMT

Business: The Company File

Media giant confirms football talks

Rumours are running rife in the Premier league team

United News & Media has confirmed it is in talks with leading football clubs over a possible deal involving broadcasting rights.

However the company would not confirm rumours that it was trying to hatch a deal to buy a stake in Premier League champions Arsenal.

The group has been touted as a rival bidder to Carlton Communications, the media group which is also eyeing up an investment in Arsenal.

Though United News & Media denied that a deal is "imminent", a spokesman for the company said the group is "in principle interested in securing media rights to football and has been in discussions with a number of clubs".

[ image: Lord Hollick,chief executive of United News & Media]
Lord Hollick,chief executive of United News & Media
Football analysts said that Premier League champions Arsenal were the "natural target" for United News & Media.

After media giant BSkyB put in a £624m bid for Manchester United in September, a number of other potential high profile deals between media companies and football teams have emerged.

Media giant Carlton Communications confirmed after the BSkyB bid that it was in talks with Arsenal.

There has also been widespread speculation surrounding Tottenham Hotspur which has been linked to United News and other potential partners including ENIC which holds stakes in several continental European clubs.

Aston Villa has also announced it is in talks with an unnamed media company.

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