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Monday, August 10, 1998 Published at 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK

Sport: Football

Man United launch TV station

They may be Britain's biggest football club, with more media coverage than any other but Manchester United clearly think their supporters across the country need to know more.

The club has launched the first daily television channel in the world devoted to one club.

It will cost fans 4.99 a month, and the nearest they will get to seeing their idols play live are in reserve and youth team fixtures.

MUTV will go on air from September 10, targeting what the club estimates are four million supporters throughout the UK with six hours of material every day from 6pm until midnight.

As well as the youth and reserve team games, there will be features and news items, but no live Premier League games.

The station is a joint venture between the club, BSkyB and the Granada Media Group.

It will broadcast first on Sky digital and on digital terrestrial television as it becomes available.

Talks are also going on with cable companies.

Studios have been built at Old Trafford and the new training complex under construction at Carrington on the outskirts of Manchester.

[ image: Alex Ferguson: Live news conferences]
Alex Ferguson: Live news conferences
A staff of around 50 has been recruited to work on the station, the idea of which was described as "revolutionary" by its chief executive Paul Ridley.

The service is eventually expected to be available world-wide to an estimated 8 million overseas Manchester United supporters.

"There isn't a Manchester United fan in the world who doesn't want more access to the club and the players," said Mr Ridley at the launch at Old Trafford.

Manager Alex Ferguson's pre-match news conferences will be screened live and fans will have a chance to question players on regular phone-in shows.

The channel will also be used to help market the club's merchandising arm, which operates two hugely successful superstores at Old Trafford.

The station will also rely heavily on Granada TV's archive material for the reshowing of classic matches.

Club chief executive Martin Edwards said: "MUTV is a very exciting development both for Manchester United plc and for the development of the club.

"But most importantly it is for the fans across the UK and Ireland. All our research shows the fans want more access to players and more information about the club. The demand is forever increasing."

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