Football: United sale to BSkyB held up

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The Independent Online
FAN POWER has forced BSkyB's proposed pounds 623m takeover of Manchester United into extra time.

The Office of Fair Trading, who will rule on whether to refer the controversial deal to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, have been deluged by complaints, forcing them to extend their review by 15 days. So far, 350 have been received by the OFT, far in excess of what would normally be expected.

BSkyB said that, contrary to recent reports, they would introduce no means to block any planned transfer spending by Manchester United if they took over the club. "Decisions on the acquisition of players will be made by the Manchester United board," a spokesman said.

Johan Mjallby, who scored the winner in England's 2-1 defeat in Stockholm last month, looks set to become George Graham's first signing at Tottenham. Reports in Sweden give support to recent rumours that the 27-year-old midfielder would soon become a Spurs player for a fee of about pounds 3m.

Leeds' caretaker manager, David O'Leary, says he is happy to go along with whatever decision the club take over the appointment of a successor to George Graham, even if it means leaving Elland Road.

"I love the club and I only want what's best for it," said O'Leary, who is running the team together with Eddie Gray before an appointment is made. "If I'm told to leave this club eventually, then that's fine - that would be the prerogative of the new manager."

Iain Dowie, who is, also performing a caretaker role at Queen's Park Rangers, says he has been promised a coaching job by the club if he is not appointed manager. Dowie wants the manager's job on a permanent basis after standing in following Ray Harford's resignation last week. Gerry Francis remains the favourite to return to his former role.

The Football League is optimistic about the future of Hull City after talking to the club chairman, David Lloyd, and they believe the 94-year- old Tigers will avoid extinction.

"We have been in direct contact with David Lloyd regarding the future of Hull City," said League spokesman, Chris Hull. "From talking to David, it would appear that his comments have been misinterpreted to a certain degree. He simply stated that selling the club is one option and, as a result, we hope to meet with David to ascertain the exact position and status of the club."

Hearts yesterday completed the signings of Gary McSwegan, the Dundee United striker, and Juanjo, the former Barcelona winger, both under the Bosman ruling.

Manchester City hope to sign the Tranmere centre-back, John McGreal in a pounds 500,000 move today.

Wolves, funded by the pounds 1.9m transfer of Steve Froggatt to Coventry, are considering whether to pursue their interest in Igli Tare, a 6ft 2in Albanian international striker with Fortuna Dusseldorf, and Robert Niestroj, a midfield player also with the German club.

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