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NTL nabs 3rd soccer stake

Cabler sports deal worth $20 mil

LONDON — NTL has picked up 6% of Middlesbrough soccer club in a deal understood to be worth well over $20 million. It marks the cabler’s third stake in an English Premier League club.

NTL previously bought shares in Newcastle United and Aston Villa, taking just under 10% in both cases, the most allowed for a media company under league regulations.

Like the previous agreements, the deal was done through Premium TV — NTL’s television subsid — and entails a five-year period during which the company will handle the club’s media rights, including a possible Middlesbrough TV channel. The club is located in northeast England.

NTL is second only to BSkyB in buying into soccer clubs in the U.K. The satcaster holds five stakes, four of which are in Premier League clubs. Observers consider the stakes as leverage in the imminent bidding war for the next TV rights to the league.

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