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Man U `will not use its TV vote'

MANCHESTER UNITED has agreed not to use its vote when future Premier League television contracts are awarded in a last-ditch attempt to prevent the competition authorities from blocking its pounds 623m takeover by British Sky Broadcasting.

The concession, which Manchester United and BSkyB offered to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission when the watchdog was compiling its report on the takeover, is likely to be included as a condition the Premiership club has to meet if the deal is agreed.

The MMC report has now been passed to Stephen Byers, the Trade and Industry Secretary, who is likely to rule on the takeover in the next few weeks.

The report has been the subject of intense speculation, with reports in the past week suggesting the MMC had concluded the takeover was against the public interest. Nevertheless BSkyB, 40 per cent owned byRupert Murdoch, believes the takeover could be cleared if the two companies agree to stringent conditions.

The conditions would have to be agreed with the Office of Fair Trading, which would be responsible for policing them. Both the MMC and OFT are thought to have expressed doubts over whether BSkyB and Manchester United could be made to observe the conditions.

Rival media companies argue that Manchester United could use its position on the Premier League board to help BSkyB keep its grip on television rights. Manchester United and BSkyB initially rejected the claim, but eventually conceded in the hope that it would improve their chances of an MMC go-ahead.