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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 03/99: murdochs big match  
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murdochs big match Wednesday, 17 March, 1999, 10:20 GMT
Countdown to a deal
Rumour has it that Rupert Murdoch decision to make a play for Manchester United was in part inspired by Italy's media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who owns AC Milan. BBC News Online outlines the sequence of events leading up to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission crucial decision on this groundbreaking takeover bid.

7 September Manchester United and Rupert Murdoch's TV company BSkyB issue statements confirming they are involved in takeover talks.

The words "anger", "fury" and "storm" feature heavily in the newspaper headlines of the day on news that media mogul Rupert Murdoch plans to snap up Manchester United.

Murdoch's big match
Politicians thrust up a red card to the proposed deal. The cross-party Football Group demands the deal be referred to the Office of Fair Trading, fearing a conflict of interest if a major sports broadcaster were to own the club.

But the City is happy. Shares in the world's most profitable football club soar on the London Stock Exchange.

The Football Association calls for talks with the government over Murdoch's proposed take-over.

8 September Manchester United directors call an urgent meeting to continue discussions of BSkyB's proposed 575m takeover.

9 September Despite mouting opposition from United fans, the club cannot resist Murdoch's bid of 623m and accepts the offer.

11 September Manchester United TV goes on air. The club's very own television station begins a broadcast of its own - the world's first channel dedicated to a single club.

12 September The Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association says a mystery pop star is offering financial backing for its fight against Rupert Murdoch's bid for the club.

13 September The board of Manchester United makes it clear it is still open to offers if anyone can better the 623m BSkyB bid.

14 September Roger Taylor of the band Queen donates 10,000 to help supporters opposed to the BSkyB takeover plan.

15 September Fans gear up for a protest rally in Manchester against the proposed takeover of their club by BskyB.

16 September Former Manchester United players Brian McClair and Sammy McIlroy join the fight.

17 September BBC bosses consider official objections to Rupert Murdoch's proposed takeover in a bid to save Match of the Day.

27 October Football supporters from all over the UK join United fans lobby MPs in an effort to persuade the Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson to refer the deal to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission

29 October Trade Secretary Peter Mandelson refers the Murdoch bid to the MMC.

12 January 1999 The Office of Fair Trading brings a case against the Premiere League to the Restrictive Practices Court claiming the league is running a cartel by negotiating TV deals between BSkyB and the BBC on behalf of 20 clubs. The case is due to be settled in June. If the OFT wins, clubs could negotiate their own broadcasting contracts. This would have major implications for BSkyB which currently has a monopoly on live matches.

12 March The MMC hands over its long-awaited report to the Trade Secretary Stephen Byers.

Links to more murdochs big match stories are at the foot of the page.


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