MPs unite to fight BSkyB rugby deal

A cross-party group of MPs were preparing to table an early day motion opposing Rupert Murdoch’s ú75m Rugby Super League deal, as Marketing Week went to press.

The MPs, led by Ian McCartney, Labour MP for Makerfield and chairman of the 80-strong parliamentary Rugby League group, are expected to question the legality of the deal and oppose the merger and closure of a number of famous rugby clubs.

The plan has dismayed many rugby fans. Sponsors are still pondering the implications of the deal.

Ten days ago, Murdoch struck a deal with the Rugby League which will result in the reduction of the league’s existing 35 clubs to 14 and the creation of an international Super League (MW last week).

Rugby League chief executive Maurice Lindsay yesterday (Tuesday) announced that from 1996 the League would refuse to field a national team against any Australian side involving players not aligned to the proposed Super League.

Murdoch’s plans have divided the international sport.

The Australian Rugby League opposes Murdoch’s Super League and has told players they will not be selected if they join it.

The New Zealand Rugby League has endorsed Murdoch’s plans.

See News Analysis, p21

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