Football: City ready to cash in with pounds 12m Sky deal

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RUPERT MURDOCH'S BSkyB empire has bought a 9.9 per cent stake in Manchester City. The First Division leaders can expect to make around pounds 12m from the deal, which also includes BSkyB paying pounds 2m for global rights to become the club's exclusive media partners.

BSkyB, who also have a 9.9 per cent stake in Leeds United, will have a representative on City's board, and further money will be raised from a new rights issue to existing shareholders.

John Wardle, a director of BSkyB, will become deputy chairman. Wardle and JD sports company partner David Mackin will convert pounds 4.8m of loans they have in the club into shares.

The City chairman, David Bernstein, promised their manager Joe Royle money to spend in the transfer market - but would not say how much. "Some of the money will be put aside for the manager," Bernstein said. "Joe Royle has done incredibly well but I can promise this deal will mean he will have greater resources at his disposal than he has had so far."

Royle himself was more circumspect, saying: "I won't be like a kid in a sweet shop. We won't pay over the top prices or wages just because we have money. The players here have got us where we are. If it's not broken, don't mend it. But if the right men become available we would think about it."

Royle laughed off the effects the purchase might have on the team. "The players don't give a monkey's," he said. "Maybe they will ask for free dishes."

Watford have completed the signing of the Bolton Wanderers defender Neil Cox, 28, for pounds 500,000 while the club's manager, Graham Taylor, has signed a new three-year contract. Aston Villa's 28-year-old left-back, Alan Wright, has signed a new three-and-a-half year contract.