Football: Sky put transfer reins on Ferguson

THE MANCHESTER UNITED manager, Alex Ferguson, may be forced to plead his case for new signings costing more than pounds 1 m with prospective buyers BSkyB over the next three months, it emerged last night.

The satellite television company's ongoing attempt to gain control of the Old Trafford club will be concluded some time between 26 October and 4 December. In the meantime, any financial deals worth more than pounds 1m must be referred to the TV company for approval.

Under normal circumstances, United would have been allowed to make no deals at all, but BSkyB has voluntarily agreed to waive its veto rights up to the pounds 1m mark. Their action has been hailed as "fairly unusual" by Peter Lee, deputy director-general of the takeover panel.

United's three principal buys of the summer - Jesper Blomqvist, Jaap Stam and Dwight Yorke - cost more than pounds 27m between them, so the leeway is not a great deal in terms of football.

"BSkyB has no interest in preventing the successful running of Manchester United either during the offer period or once the acquisition is completed," said a company spokeswoman.