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Sports Internet to Acquire Planetfootball

Sports Internet Group PLC Friday announced it will buy football Web site developer Planetfootball.com Ltd. for £24 million (US$39 million) as the first step in its creation of a Internet sports gaming group.

Planetfootball designs, builds and maintains a portfolio of 20 sports Web sites, including Aston Villa, Leeds United and Newcastle United.

Peter Wilkinson, founder of Planetfootball, was also the architect of free ISP Freeserve, currently the UK's leading ISP. Planet Online, Wilkinson's business-oriented ISP, was sold to Energis plc in August 1998 for £75 million (US$122 million).

Planetfootball's content will be a "key driver" to the commercial success of the new gaming group, said to Sports Internet chairman Chris Akers.

"We have achieved the first phase of our strategic plan to create a leading position in terms of sports content and technical innovation. We are now focusing on exploiting the revenue potential of this position and are encouraged by the early results, Wilkinson said.

The company plans to be taking bets by the beginning of the next football season.