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BT 'close to deal for exclusive Champions League rights'

BT Sport are reportedly on the brink of landing exclusive UK rights to Champions League football after outbidding BSkyB and ITV with a near £1 billion bid.

The telecoms company has outbid both BSkyB and ITV, the current holders of the rights, and are set to finalise the deal to show exclusive coverage of both the Champions League and the Europa League for three years from 2015 after talks with Uefa, according to The Times.

The Champions League is regarded as the biggest club competition in world football. Credit: PA Wire

If finalised, the contract would signal the end of Champions League football on free-to-air television for the first time in Britain.

The deal is worth almost double what ITV and Sky signed for the current contract with little competition in 2011.

The move is the latest large scale investment from BT into live football coverage after it paid £738 million to show 38 Premier League games a season for three years.

Half a million people sign up for BT Sport channels

BT has revealed that more than half a million people have signed up to its new sports channels ahead of its launch next month.

The group added over 95,000 retail broadband customers during the end of June - a 12 per cent rise on a year earlier.

BT Sport presenters Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding pcitured at the channel's launch/ Credit: PA Wire

The telecoms giant, who are aiming to break Sky's grip on sports pay TV, are offering broadband customers the chance to watch Premier League football for free.

The company expects further growth to TV and broadband customers once it launches the channels.

Read: BT Sport offers channels free to broadband customers

Ofcom to investigate BSkyB after BT Sport complaint

The battle for armchair sports fans escalated after the telecoms regulator Ofcom launched an investigation into BSkyB's alleged refusal to share its Sky Sports channels with BT on "fair terms".

Ofcom said it has opened an investigation into Sky's "alleged abuse of a dominant position" regarding the wholesale supply of Sky Sports 1 and 2 - its flagship sports channels.

BT has complained that BSkyB is taking advantage of its market dominance. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

BT wants to offer Sky Sports via YouView set-top boxes to complement its own newly-launched sport offer.

But BT said Sky will not allow the channels to be broadcast over BT boxes unless it offers its rival wholesale access to its own BT Sport channels in return.

Rio Ferdinand has been signed by BT Sport as an "interviewer, programme-maker and football expert" Credit: PA

Ofcom said it will "consider whether Sky has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law".

The regulator added it will decide by next month whether to grant "interim relief" - which could temporarily give BT access to Sky Sports.

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