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Murdoch meets Man Utd Saturday, 12 December, 1998, 02:32 GMT
Inquiry chief reassures Man Utd fans
Supporters say the deal would harm the club
The head of the official inquiry into BSkyB's planned 623m takeover of Manchester United has told fans there is no "done deal".

Monopolies and Mergers Commission officials have been meeting fans' groups in Manchester.

MMC chief Dr Derek Morris said after meeting the club's independent supporters' association: "If it's a done deal we don't know about it.

"We do not know what the outcome will be because we are still hearing evidence, probing it, testing it and it will be a long time before we come to a view."

Peter Mandelson: Started inquiry
Earlier the five-strong MMC panel - which is considering the deal after it was referred by Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson - met representatives from the national Football Supporters' Association and the Manchester-based Professional Footballers' Association.

The Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association says the proposal should be blocked because it will harm the club and damage the wider interests of British football.

Spokesman Andy Walsh said the "gruelling" meeting with the MMC had gone well.

"I think we got a very fair hearing from the MMC and we are very grateful to them for giving so much time over to the points that we had to raise.

"They listened with interest and cross-examined us quite thoroughly on the evidence that we have submitted and the comments our delegation made today."

Rupert Murdoch will hear results of inquiry next March
Asked if his overriding feeling was hopeful he said: "My overriding feeling is being very tired after over two hours of gruelling cross examination.

"But we have always been hopeful that the strength of feeling was such that if we got the opportunity to have our arguments heard and have people listen to our concerns as fans then we would be successful in trying to block this bid."

Dr Morris said the investigating panel had heard a lot of "interesting information".

"We have obviously also got to discuss all this with BSkyB and Manchester United themselves and at that point we will then be able to start forming some views, but it's still very early days."

More hearings will be held before and after New Year and the panel will then consider its response, expected to be published in mid-March.

See also:

09 Sep 98 | Business
30 Oct 98 | Murdoch meets Man Utd
19 Nov 98 | Murdoch meets Man Utd
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