BBC tries to heal rift with Man United

BBC officials will meet representatives of Manchester United this week in an attempt to settle a dispute that left manager and players refusing to speak to the corporation. The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, banned the BBC from post-match interviews after two broadcasters made critical remarks about his team.

BBC officials will meet representatives of Manchester United this week in an attempt to settle a dispute that left manager and players refusing to speak to the corporation. The United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, banned the BBC from post-match interviews after two broadcasters made critical remarks about his team.

The breakdown has become increasingly noticeable and provoked complaints from viewers. The Match of the Day producer, Niall Sloane, is to meet United's new chief executive, Peter Kenyon, on Thursday to try to settle the dispute.

Sir Alex imposed the ban because of remarks made by the broadcaster Pat Murphy in the Match of the Day magazine and passages in the Radio 5 Live commentator Alan Green's autobiography, which were critical of the team.

Last month, the Grandstand presenter, Steve Rider showed the BBC's frustration after Manchester United beat Leeds United but neither manager nor players were available for interview afterwards. He said the Leeds manager, David O'Leary, was "grown-up" enough to go on television.

The snub has become noticeable on Match of the Day, with the programme having to settle for opposition views about the Old Trafford club. The programme has made overtures but Sir Alex refuses to budge and the BBC hierarchy hopes to get over the problem by speaking to Mr Kenyon.

United's sponsors, and the companies who back the players, are thought to be concerned at missing exposure.

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