Tuesday, October 27, 1998 Published at 12:03 GMT
Man Utd fans take on Parliament
The Man Utd recommended the BSkyB offer
Football supporters from around the UK are joining a coach-load of Manchester United fans to lobby MPs on the BSkyB take-over.
Mr Mandelson could take the decision as early as next week - after receiving a report from the Office of Fair Trading - making what will be one of his trickiest choices since taking the job.
Mr Hodgkiss said the meeting of supporters and MPs in Parliament marked a new phase in the campaign to keep BSkyB out the Old Trafford boardroom.
"We're here today to try to win over the floating voter really, the people who are not really sure yet what the best way to go is.
"We would hope that they would use their influence to talk to Mr Mandelson and get over to him our concerns. People within football are totally against this.
"We've made it clear from the start this isn't just an issue for Manchester United, it's an issue for the footballing community at large. We've got representation from other clubs around the country."
He asked: "Is it in Murdoch's interest for Manchester United to remain the greatest football team in the world?
"He's said he doesn't want a situation for the Premier League like in Scotland where Rangers tend to win every year.
"Well, I'm a Manchester United supporter. I want my team to win every single year. I know they won't and that's what makes it exciting. But it's not in Murdoch's interests to make Manchester United as successful as we want them to be.
"The main crux of our position is that we lose the independence of our football club. Some people say, 'You're a plc now'. That's correct but the money that the club makes now is poured back in to the business.
About half that number have signed an Early Day Motion registering their opposition to the deal.
The EDM states the purchase "will create an unacceptable situation" and "is not in the best interests of fans, clubs or television viewers and the sport in general".
One of the motions supporters, Conservative MP Nigel Evans, said: "We're putting pressure on the DTI to ensure it does get referred. That's as much as we can do. We're hoping the DTI will move on this and protect the sport for the fans."
Labour MP Joe Ashton, who is co-ordinating efforts to block the take-over, said he had not many anyone in Parliament who supported the deal.
"We're trying to get a debate Commons next week on the floor of the House. We're very hopeful that might happen."
"We set out to achieve certain things," Mr Hodgkiss said. "We set out to achieve a delay, for the Office of Fair Trading to delay their decision. We achieved that.
"The next step is to get this referred to the Monopolies Commission and that's what this is all about.
"My gut feeling is that Mandelson will have to refer it to the Monopolies and that's what we implore him to do, so it will give time for the football community at large to give further consideration to the issue of media companies taking over clubs. That's all we want."