SBJ/December 20 - 26, 1999/No Topic Name

Ale be seeing ya: Premium TV to supplant Newcastle on jerseys

In a move that ends brewer Newcastle Brown's long association with the Newcastle United soccer club, the team has agreed to a media partnership with Premium TV, a subsidiary of U.S.-owned cable operator NTL. Newcastle will receive an interest-free loan of up to $40 million, and NTL will invest $8 million in the club for an equity stake of 3.6 percent, increasing its stake from 6.3 percent to 9.9 percent. NTL bought 6.3 percent last December for $16 million.

Following the format of the recent trend of media buys in U.K. soccer clubs, Premium TV will act as exclusive agent for Newcastle's media and commercial rights, and gain the rights to run any Newcastle United TV channel or Web site (now hosted by planetfootball.com). Premium will replace Newcastle Brown as the club's shirt sponsors in a five-year deal starting in 2000.

TWO INTO ONE FOR FIVE-A-SIDE: The two biggest operators in the growing leisure business of five-a-side soccer centers in Britain have merged. Anchor International and Powerplay Supersoccer Ltd. have come together in a deal valued at $86 million.

The United Kingdom has about 30 five-a-side soccer centers, each comprising 10 to 15 small playing fields. The group said it has the potential to develop 150 centers in the next few years and will roll the concept out abroad. The new name of the merged Powerplay-Anchor company has yet to be announced. The combined business operates 14 centers and plans to open 12 more in the next two years.

AUSTRALIA WANTS WOMEN'S CUP: Soccer's international governing body, FIFA, has decided to move the next Women's World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in 2003, forward to 2002 to sustain the momentum generated by the hit 1999 tournament in the United States. FIFA had received only one bid to host the tournament by the Nov. 30 deadline, from Australia.

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