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Granada adds soccer to its Arsenal

Deal includes Internet delayed coverage of club's matches

LONDON — Granada Media has teamed with soccer club Arsenal, one of the top teams in the U.K.’s premier league, receiving a 5% stake in the club in return for an investment of £47 million ($71 million).

Under the deal, the ITV company will get a 50% interest in new Internet venture AFC Broadband, which will offer delayed coverage of the club’s matches and other services to fans.

Arsenal will use the funds to help finance a new 60,000-seat stadium in north London. Following approval of this project, Granada will be able to increase its share to 9.9% — the biggest stake a media company is allowed to have in a club under soccer industry regulations.

Move is the latest in a series of partnerships between U.K. broadcasters and soccer clubs. Granada already owns a similar stake in Liverpool; cabler NTL is paired with, among others, Newcastle and Aston Villa; and satcaster BSkyB’s bedfellows include Manchester United, Chelsea and Leeds.

Arsenal had previously negotiated for a deal with Granada’s chief rival, Carlton Communications, but the companies failed to agree on a price.

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