Monday 12 April 1999
The Sunday newspapers on the DTI's refusal to let BSkyB take over Manchester United
THE DECISION not to allow the takeover of Manchester United by Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB will doubtless be debated long and hard. But it is difficult to argue with the way it was arrived at. The Government had little choice but to refer the pounds 623m bid to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. In not venturing to disregard the commission's view that the takeover would be bad for competition, Trade Secretary Stephen Byers has simply acted according to the book That he did so knowing he would inevitably disappoint someone whose support helped New Labour to win power makes his decision all the more commendable.
The Mail on Sunday
WHAT SEEMS to have been ignored in the furore over Manchester United and BSky B is that football, like other entertainment, is a business. Britain's biggest club is owned by fund managers who demand a return. This is no bad thing. Football has needed more capital than small investors or hobbyists could provide and the City has made that available - at a price. (John Jay)
The Sunday Times
THERE IS no business logic to the DTI's decision because it is not a decision about business. Had the bidder been anyone other than Mr Murdoch, the deal would almost certainly have been approved. But in order to appease its vociferous chattering-class supporters who regard Mr Murdoch as the Great Demon, New Labour has caved in to a group of campaigners, most of whom think Andy "King" Cole sang "Unforgettable".
THE GOVERNMENT'S decision to block BSkyB's bid for Manchester United could be the reverse that breaks Rupert Murdoch's will to extend his dominion on to the Continent. The short-term winners in that case may be diehard Manchester United fans. In the longer term, the winners are likely to be the Continental European Medial moguls with whom Murdoch must now deal on weakened terms. (Peter Koenig)
The Independent on Sunday
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